Today, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) announced that alumnus George E. Cooper, Ph.D., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will serve as speaker for its summer commencement ceremonies scheduled Friday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center, 1800 Wahnish Way, Tallahassee, Fla.
“We are excited to welcome home alumnus George Cooper to share his passion for higher education with the newest graduates of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University,” said President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. “His career trajectory from ambitious student to university president to White House executive director demonstrates just how far our students can excel using the academic foundation they obtain here.”
As a part of the leadership team for the White House Initiative on HBCUs, Cooper works with the president-appointed HBCU Board of Advisors as a liaison between the executive branch and HBCUs across the country. He serves as the constant voice of the HBCU community at the Department of Education and helps to shape policy and deploy resources to better serve the students, faculty and families of the greater HBCU community. He also works with 32 federal agencies that support HBCUs through federal grants and contracts.
Cooper was a senior fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), where he reviewed key federal legislation important to HBCUs. Previously, Cooper served for four years (2008-2012) as the 10th president of South Carolina State University (SCSU), where he provided institutional leadership for the orderly and progressive development of the university. During his presidency at SCSU, he also served as chairperson of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, Council of 1890 Universities (2010-2012).
Cooper spent 17 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service). He served five years (1985-1990) at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) as vice president for academic affairs and professor, Department of Animal Science, and executive assistant to the president. Cooper served as dean of the School of Applied Sciences and associate professor, Department of Animal Science at Tuskegee University.
Along with a vast array of professional expertise, Cooper has served on a number of boards including recently serving as a member of the Orangeburg, S.C. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; co-chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, HBCU and Limited Resource Institution Academic Advisory Group (2011); member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (2010-2012); and co-chair of the USDA/1980 Task Force (2010-2012).
Cooper received his bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from FAMU, a master’s degree in animal science from Tuskegee University, and a doctoral degree in animal nutrition from the University of Illinois – Urbana.