January 26, 2001

Robert I. Rowe Memorial Scholarship

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The Office of Financial Aid will offer the new Robert I. Rowe Memorial Scholarship next fall in remembrance of Robert Rowe, associate director of financial aid, who passed away Dec. 15.

“The new scholarship … is a wonderful tribute to a man who has done so much in easing the financial burdens of students pursuing higher education, including myself,” said Zaman Velji ’03, a student who worked with Rowe during the administrator’s 24 years at Cornell.

The scholarship aims to help needy students who have overcome some adversity, according to Thomas C. Keane, director of financial aid and student employment. Keane is unsure how much the Rowe Memorial Scholarship will offer, but expects to work out details with the Rowe family in the upcoming months.

Keane said that Rowe’s influence in the workplace was undoubtedly “all over the place.”

“If you were an individual who needed help and understanding in unusual financial aid circumstances or just needed someone to go the extra mile in helping to be here [at Cornell], then [Rowe] was the person to go see,” Keane said.

In a letter addressed to his “financial family” two days after Rowe was diagnosed with a terminal illness last September, Rowe reiterated his dedication to his job and students.

“We do not live in a perfect world,” Rowe wrote. “Cornell is not a perfect place, but Cornell is a very, very good place and great things can and do happen here.”

“Of course we have our regulations,” Rowe continued,” but we can exhibit extraordinary patience and concern to make the solutions to the problems appear a little sooner.”

Shane Downey grad, who worked with Rowe said that the financial aid director was “a great contributor to the Cornell community, ensuring financing would not be a reason that students would not attend Cornell.”

“His hardworking attitude is an example that all Cornell students should try to live up to,” Downey said.

Rowe was compassionate not just in what he said, but also in his actions, said Lorraine F. Jayne, administrative assistant to Keane. “He worked well with parents and family — he was on the phone a lot, explaining the [financial aid] process to students.”

In addition to working the normal day, Rowe would go home to his family and then return to the office at 10 p. m., according to Keane. He would work well into the next morning, almost every night of the week including the weekend, he said.

“You could drive by Day Hall and see the light on,” Keane said. “We’ve been keeping the light on every day as a sort of reassurance,” he added.

Archived article by Janet Liao