As the children of single mothers and the first generation in their families to even consider college, gaining access to a higher education was never a forgone conclusion for Deborah Miffoluf Cohen and her husband, Alan M. Cohen. But, because of its affordability and proximity, Temple became their gateway. And they made the most of their four years there.
In her senior year, Mrs. Cohen, as president of the marketing club, helped organize a program that brought alumni from various business fields back to campus to provide students with some insight into what their work entailed. A common occurrence now at most colleges and universities, the program was among the first of its kind then. Later that year, Mrs. Cohen earned her first post-graduation job—with a company she’d end up spending the next 21 years with—through an on-campus interview. In his senior year, Mr. Cohen was appointed by then-Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp to be Temple’s first student trustee, an honor Mr. Cohen still considers to be one of his proudest achievements. “That role shaped the way I came to think about education and policy-making,” he says. The potent combination of ambition and impetus spurred the Cohens well beyond North Philadelphia. Amid a demanding career as a senior buyer at the J.C. Penney Company, Mrs. Cohen attended night classes at the New York University Stern School of Business and ultimately earned her MBA. She went on to be named vice president of merchandising for a J.C. Penney subsidiary, a women’s apparel and accessories specialty store. She concluded her career as a brand manager for Rosetti Handbags and Accessories. Mr. Cohen earned a PhD in political science from Rutgers University and then a JD from the Rutgers School of Law. He spent nine years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during which time he served as the chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. From there, Mr. Cohen worked as an attorney in a private practice for more than a decade before joining the New York-based bank, The Goldman Sachs Group, in 2004 as an executive vice president and the head of global compliance. Mr. Cohen left Goldman Sachs in September 2017 when he was appointed a senior policy advisor to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton. “We’re both so grateful to have received the education from Temple that we did,” Mr. Cohen says. “We took it to the next level because we’re driven people. But, we’re certainly grateful for that beginning. Without it, who knows?” Again and again, the Cohens returned to Temple to pay their gratitude forward. Mrs. Cohen served on the Alumni Association Parliament. Mr. Cohen recently concluded a three-year term as a trustee. And together, they established the Alan and Deborah Cohen Goldman Sachs Scholarship Fund. “I think we have an obligation because we can,” Mr. Cohen says, “to help support Temple’s mission for generations to come.”