Larine Y. Cowan is the retired Assistant Chancellor and Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at the University of Illinois. She retired from this position in 1996, upon which she received a House of Illinois Legislature resolution honoring her accomplishments.
Larine Cowan began her career in civil rights and human rights as the Director of the Community Relations Department for the City of Champaign in the 1970s, where she partnered with a lieutenant with the Champaign Police Department and two psychology professors at the University of Illinois to conduct research resulting in the publication of an article entitled "Police-Community Relations: A Process, Not a Product," and changes in police and citizen interactions in the City of Champaign. She was active in the local community, serving on several boards that provide services to pre-K through elementary school children, families struggling with addiction and substance abuse, women's issues, human and civil rights, equity, access and economic parity. She is dedicated to State and national organizations that promote social justice and
empowerment and she has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in these areas.
She has been devoted to a career in affirmative action and diversity; she served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administration and Director of Affirmative Action for Staff for the University of Illinois where she led the campus in establishing policies and procedures to advance the campus affirmative action efforts for staff employees; as Assistant Chancellor and Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access (OEOA), she introduced the first major campus-wide diversity programs that were attended by deans, directors, and department heads, and was instrumental in the development of the first video produced on sexual harassment prevention and the presentation of a series of campus programs on sexual harassment prevention.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois; she conducted and examined research on policies and programs used to increase ethnic and racial diversity among faculty at research universities; and she oversaw the University's
Affirmative Action policies and procedures, including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; theinvestigation of internal and external complaints of alleged discrimination filed with Federal and State Civil Rights Agencies; the development and implementation of educational programs on diversity, inclusion, sexual harassment prevention, disability issues, and related topics for faculty and staff to improve campus climate and to facilitate campus and community outreach and engagement.
In her retirement she divides her time between Champaign-Urbana and her family home in Arkansas.
Ms. Cowan was featured in Difference Makers 2010: An eBlack Champaign-Urbana Publication.
Additional biographical information comes from The Black Women in the Middle West Project: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, Illinois and Indiana: Historical Essays, Oral Histories, Biographical Profiles and Document Collections
Larine Cowan, "Rene" "Carnation Baby" Yvonne was born at Kensett, Arkansas on March 25, 1949. Cowan is one of five children of Ola Mae Cowan, nee Mitchell, a homemaker born at Aherdine, Mississippi on November 25,1927, and William "Rock" Cowan, a Missouri Pacific RR Foreman born at Kensett on Septembel 27, 1926. She moved from Arkansas to Champaign and Savoy in 1973, where she has since lived except for the years 1979 to 1982. She received a B.A. in Sociology (1971) from Arkansas A.M. & N. College and a M.A. in Social Work (1973) from the University of Arkansas. She was the Director of the Community Relations Department for the City of Champaign from 1974 to 1979 and has been an Equal Opportunity Officer at the University of Illinois since then. She is also a volunteer Illinois State Coordinator for the Opportunity Industry Center of America. She has received awards for human relations, volunteer work, and civil rights contributions. She belonged to Free Will Baptist Church in Urbana, Illinois from 1973 to 1978 and currently is
a member of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church. Her affiliations have included the National Women's Political Caucus, NAACP, Urban League, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Human Rights, National Association of Female Executives, AAUW, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She was aIso the Chancellor of the Committee on the Status of Women at the University of Illinois. She has written works on human rights and the police in Champaign-Urbana . "Prayer, patience, and perseverance are essential for happiness and success," Cowan said in a 1984 interview.