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Adam Cohen

Meet Adam Cohen

Adam Cohen’s list of achievements as not only a member of the DePauw community but also the Greencastle community is nothing short of impressive.

And it spans 30 years at a place he didn’t anticipate staying. In fact, after three months in the 1980s as a grad student in DePauw’s Master of Education program and an assistant football coach, he pleaded with his father to let him come home. 

He recounts the call he made to tell his parents he was unhappy and wanted to come home. “There’s nothing but cornfields here and no one knows what a Jew is,” he remembers saying. His dad, a first-generation college student and an attorney, said, “You’re staying.”

Besides that terse admonition, what has kept the younger Cohen at DePauw all these years is a combination of love for the community and his ability to connect with DePauw students.

Cohen is head coach of the men’s swimming and diving team and part-time member of the kinesiology faculty. Over the years he has stepped in to serve as part-time coordinator and also director of the Center for Spiritual Life. He started the DePauw Muslim Student Association. 

Outside DePauw, he is a four-term member of the Greencastle City Council and was president of the Big Walnut Sports Park.

These days, Cohen is serving the community in a different way: He has been conducting contact tracing to track the spread of COVID-19 at DePauw and has so avidly taken to the task that he has been dubbed “the guru.” 

He’s been working long hours, checking in on students who are in quarantine or isolation, sending texts, making phone calls, training his team of volunteers and updating all of that information on a Google doc.

“There are about eight coaches who stepped up at the start,  including some who are only part-time employees at DePauw,” he said. Other staff members likewise have volunteered to help. 

Cohen's involvement was inspired by his desire to support Stevie Baker-Watson, associate vice president for campus wellness and the Theodore Katula director of athletics and recreational sports.

“When the coaches and I saw how hard Stevie was working and then she came to us for help, we stepped up,” he said. “But I don't think any of us had any idea of the scope of it.”

He takes his role personally. “I think all the coaches feel this way: When we bring kids to DePauw, they’re our responsibility.”

Cohen said that this is a time to care for one another and go the extra distance.

“It's been a tough year, and I've never seen the country this divided. A lot of people are hurting on so many levels, but especially our students,” he said. “Ask a student how they're doing; what's going on in their life. We need to remember that just saying ‘hello’ matters.”

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