• 57 years old
  • Born on September 1, 1961 in Memphis, Tennessee, United States.
  • Passed away on February 20, 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island, United States.

We set up this page because Amanda has friends across the world and this is a way for those who knew her, no matter where they are, to gather and share their memories, stories and pictures.

Amanda was a wonderful wife, mother, step-mother, professor, friend, colleague, vegetarian, environmentalist, protector of animals, lover of gardens, world traveller, quirky joker, excellent driver, music lover, gourmand, regular Sunday morning attendee at the Sunday morning Coffee Concerts in the Holywell Music Room in Oxford, and many other things.

One other thing is that while Amanda was growing up in Memphis, her mother was good friends with Elvis Presley's mother.

She was a graduate of The University of Illinois, East Tennessee State University, Yale and Oxford. When she graduated from Oxford her D.Phil dissertation was accepted with no corrections. She became an Assistant Professor in the College of Business at The University of Rhode Island.

In the Life section of this site you can read the letter sent to faculty and others by Dean Tufano of the Said School of Business at Oxford which describes her many contributions there.

Before her academic career she worked as a restaurant chef, a technical writer, a computer programmer, and for two years chaired a committee to put on a 3 month exhibit of mechanical dinosaurs that had 100,000 visitors, was featured on national TV and raised $750,000 for Junior League charities. Before she started at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale she ran a college student center for two years.

Please share your thoughts and pictures on this memorial site so that others across the world can see how Amanda affected many lives.

Her life was based on the overarching importance of love, and at the same time the application of fact and reason to all human activities. Because her father was a journalist and she was an academic she greatly prized the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment in our US Bill of Rights. She asked that, when she died, memorial contributions could be made to the Committee to Protect Journalists which works to promotes press freedom worldwide. 

If you'd like to honor her memory with a donation you can learn more about their work at https://cpj.org/about/ and make an on-line donation in her memory at https://donate.cpj.org/page/28608/donate/ 


Posted by Joan Woodruff on April 6, 2019
"Mandy" was my youngest cousin. I will forever regret not keeping in touch with her after my favorite aunt (her mother) passed away in 2013. Cousin Phil (her brother) wrote to let me know she'd died, and I'm a bit in shock. She lived her life honoring who and what she deeply cared about. Her passing leaves a large empty place in the family.
Posted by Namrata Malhotra on March 22, 2019
I got to know Amanda when she was doing her PhD and we had the opportunity to spend time together at conferences. I recall every interaction and conversation with her was stimulating, inspired and full of fun! I will cherish those moments always.
Posted by NANCY FORSTER-HOLT on March 4, 2019
Dear Amanda,
I miss seeing you in the hallway at Ballentine (URI). What a fun colleague you were. Thank you for making me feel so welcome at URI. I will miss walking with you at graduation. Thank you for helping me through the confusion of getting the regalia headed in the right direction. I will miss joking with you about your Oxford graduation gown, which has no zipper, I guess all in the name of tradition. I will debate you all day about how it really ought to close properly and not flap in the wind. But here we are. I will carry you in my heart as we march this year. Bye for now. Sigh.....
Posted by Sally Maitlis on February 27, 2019
I got to know Amanda when I moved to Oxford a few years ago. For a while she was in the office next door, one of the warmest, friendliest people around. She was full of life: very smart without being overbearing, very sociable but not wearing. She was also extremely funny, with a deadpan delivery that it sometimes took a moment to realize was not serious. When she left to take up her position at URI, the school felt emptier and more impersonal, but it was still lovely to see her at professional conferences. The last time I saw Amanda, in August, I hoped that she was moving towards a future that could hold new adventures and joy. I am so sorry that it was not to be. RIP, Amanda.
Posted by Helen Lydka on February 26, 2019
My husband supervised Amanda’s Phd at Oxford. He told me how bright and intellectual this new student of his was and I was quite scared about meeting her. I needn’t have worried. Amanda was bright but also warm and friendly and funny. I appreciated that she always included me in any social gatherings and worked very hard to make people feel welcome. It is tragic that her life has been cut short so prematurely; she will be greatly missed by all her friends and colleagues in Oxford.
Posted by Michael Gill on February 26, 2019
I always found Amanda to be such warm and wonderful company. She was generous with her time while we were both at Oxford and I vividly recall discussing our DPhils together, for many hours. You will be missed.
Posted by Duncan Thomas on February 26, 2019
Such a lovely person from what I've read, will give prayers from the united kingdom. my thoughts are with you all in your sadness. regards Mr Duncan Thomas.
Posted by Beth Senay on February 24, 2019
I only met Amanda in person once and immediately liked her!  I knew so much about this inspirational person prior to our introduction through my conversations with Jim Cowan. When I reported to Jim at Aetna, it was always crystal clear that Amanda and his family were his highest priority and the lights of his life. I knew this by observing the pictures on his desk and listening to stories that he shared about his life adventures with the Cowan clan. Amanda was the center of it all!
Amanda, you will be missed and forever loved. 
To the Cowan Family and those who knew Amanda best, " I believe that tears can heal, that memories can comfort and that love lives on forever."
- Anonymous
Posted by Vincent Sai on February 23, 2019
Amanda - what amazing accomplishments but always down to earth and kind - a true inspiration - gone too soon - a real loss to the world
Love from Sai Family (Vincent, Cathy, Claudia, Evelyn, Adam and Jamie)
Posted by Ann-Marie Sacco on February 22, 2019
Amanda, Wish we had more time to become friends. you were kind, open and helpful! You will be missed and admired!
Posted by Kristine Taylor on February 22, 2019
This is such terrible news. Dr. Cowan was one of my favorite teachers and served as a mentor for me my senior year. Her recommendation helped me secure my first job. The world has lost a truly amazing person and teacher.
Posted by Daniel Ross on February 22, 2019
Professor Cowan had such a kind heart. I remember enrolling late and being told there was no way I was getting into her class. So I figured I could meet her and try to talk my way in. Well, it wasn’t so easy and she wanted to make me work for it, make sure I understood that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk and I would try my best. I’ve never been more immersed in a class in life. She wanted us all to not only do well, but learn some important life skills along the way. Whether it was porters 5 forces, hand washing, or how to not let you car get broken into by hackers she was such a engaging and hilarious professor and human. Such a great person and I am lucky to have met her as she made a very lasting impression on me. Rest In Peace.
Posted by Laura Eleanor on February 22, 2019
You were a wonderful step-mommy who I've know since I was 6 years old and will be forever missed.
Posted by Judy Beckman on February 22, 2019
Amanda, I am glad to have met you during the brief time you were here at URI.
Posted by Sarah Otner on February 21, 2019
Now (as always, really) this makes me want to run - away from my desk, and towards nature, animals, great food, joy & silliness, and all the things Amanda enjoyed and stood for. For the rest of my life, I will never eat goat cheese without remembering Amanda (and I am grateful for that).

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