North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College scholarship honors educator, public servant Mary Lou Cowlishaw

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A new North Central College scholarship honors the legacy of the late educator and public servant Mary Lou Cowlishaw.

The Mary Lou Cowlishaw Scholarship for Lederman Scholars will help offset tuition costs for academically gifted high school students who earn college credit by enrolling in North Central College’s Lederman Scholars program.

Cowlishaw, a lifelong advocate for education who died in 2010 at age 78, served the public in many ways throughout her life. She worked for more than a decade as a journalist for The Naperville Sun newspaper, served for nearly 10 years on the Naperville Community Unit School District 203 Board of Education, and later represented the 41st District for 20 years in the Illinois Legislature. Cowlishaw, for whom an elementary school in Naperville is named, served on the faculty of North Central College as an adjunct professor of education for nearly a decade.

“Mary Lou was passionate not only about improving the quality of public education but access to it for all students,” says Wayne Cowlishaw, her husband of 56 years. “In particular, she worked on enhancing opportunities for gifted students, which led to her involvement in the Lederman Scholars program at North Central.”

North Central’s rigorous Lederman Scholars Program honors Dr. Leon Lederman—director emeritus of Fermi National Laboratory, Nobel Laureate in physics and resident scholar at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora. Naperville-area high school students are eligible to apply to become Lederman Scholars, a highly selective “college-within-a-college” at North Central and pursue a rigorous curriculum among their peers and traditional-aged college students. Lederman Scholars may earn two-plus years of fully transferable college credit.

Visit or contact Richard J. Wilders, Marie and Bernice Gantzert Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics and director of the Lederman Scholars program, at 630-637-5234 or to learn more about the program. Visit to learn more about the new scholarship.