Badge of honor

Jeweler helps commemorate family members, founding dentistry dean

It didn’t take long for L. Taylor Cowardin (B.S.’03/B) to say “Yes” when asked to support his alma mater in a unique way.

His great-great-grand-uncle, Lewis M. Cowardin, M.D., D.D.S., was the founding dean of what is now the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry.

To answer that call, the alumnus’s family business, Cowardin’s Jewelers, designed and fabricated three lapel pins for the School of Dentistry’s Deans Society, each featuring a likeness of three visionary leaders from the school’s history. The first batch of pins has already been distributed to members of the society.

“Lewis was the brother of Cowardin’s Jewelers’ founder,” Cowardin said. “We try to support [VCU] when we can and are proud about the School of Dentistry’s ties to one of our family members.”

Taylor and Cowardin’s Jewelers are strong VCU benefactors, with gifts supporting the Ram Athletic Fund, the Highlands Massey Classic golf event and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

The pins are made in gold, silver and bronze finishes. Each pin represents an annual-giving level. “We wanted to give back and saw this as an effective way to encourage more giving from alumni,” Cowardin said. “I enjoyed my experience [at VCU] and want to help make the school the best that it can be. VCU is doing wonders for Richmond. It helps the whole city.”

Gifts in kind are significant to the school, said David C. Sarrett, D.M.D., dean of the School of Dentistry and associate vice president for VCU Health Sciences-Faculty Affairs.

“We share a special, historic link with the Cowardin family, which makes their in-kind gift in honor of our school’s founding deans so meaningful,” Sarrett said.

“Through the Cowardins’ generosity, our Deans Society donors will receive beautiful commemorative expressions of our thanks to wear proudly in support of their alma mater.”

To learn more about the VCU School of Dentistry, contact Gloria F. Callihan, J.D., associate dean of development and alumni affairs, at (804) 828-8101 or