Profiles of Impact

Tom and Cynthia Cochran

From Flight to Philanthropy: Professor Emeritus Leaves a Lasting Legacy at UTSA

At the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), many remember Professor Samuel (Sam) W. Cochran, Ph.D., not just for his academic tenure, but for the difference he made in the lives of countless students. Sam, who served on the faculty from 1984 to 1998, left an enduring legacy that his son, Tom Cochran, and daughter-in-law Cynthia, are committed to preserving.

Prior to becoming an educator, Sam was a United States Air Force pilot. Following his flying career, he became a researcher for the renowned Rand Corporation and taught future leaders as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy. His diverse experiences enhanced his teaching at UTSA, leading him to receive the Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 1990. He also became the first-ever non-tenure track faculty member to receive the designation of Professor Emeritus upon his retirement on May 31, 1998.

With a deep commitment to the success of his students and a strong belief in supporting future generations, Sam endowed two scholarships at UTSA. The Pauline W. and Samuel W. Cochran Endowed Fund and The Dr. Samuel W. Cochran Endowed Generativity Fund are awarded to high-achieving incoming freshmen who demonstrate financial need, with preference given to those studying humanities and social sciences.

Tom Cochran and his wife Cynthia have fond memories of visiting Sam during his career at UTSA and have enjoyed seeing the rapid growth of the university. They have regularly supported both of his scholarships, and last year made the decision to include the scholarships in their will, ensuring the funds’ futures for generations of Roadrunners to come.

“We know my father’s endowments are very well-managed at UTSA. Our hope is that as these funds grow, they’ll open doors for more first-generation students who might have encountered financial barriers,” said Tom. “Students should be able to concentrate on their studies and engage in extra-curricular activities that set them up for success, without juggling multiple jobs to afford their education.”

Sam’s passion for education wasn’t limited to the classroom. He was also the author of “A Sliver of My Life,” a collection of essays that provide a window into his World War II experiences. Though he only self-published 30 hard copies initially, Tom recognized the book’s value and introduced it to a broader audience by releasing an electronic version on the Amazon Kindle store. Proceeds from the book’s sale directly support The Pauline W. and Samuel W. Cochran Endowed Fund.

The University of Texas at San Antonio Donor Tom and Cynthia Cochran
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