Dr. George Cooper died over the weekend.
Cooper was the 10th president of the historically black university in Orangeburg from 2008-2012.
According to The White House, Cooper served as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In a statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama expressed his condolences on behalf of himself and wife Michelle saying, “George’s passing is a great loss for my Administration, the HBCU and higher education communities and for everyone that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diana, family and friends during this difficult time.”
A cause of death has not been released.
Cooper voluntarily resigned in 2012 citing family reasons and looking for other career opportunities. He stepped down during a time of controversy when the school’s troubles began to surface. Three weeks prior to Cooper resigning, he fired eight top-level employees. In March of 2012, Cooper said, “for the last three months, this university has been challenged with many issues beyond my control.”
SC State University Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans released a statement:
“The SC State University family is deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Dr. George Cooper, our 10th president.
Today, we honor and remember Dr. Cooper for his unyielding service to our illustrious institution. He served as president from 2008 until 2012. Under his leadership, he was instrumental in advancing progressive initiatives that served as the framework to strengthen the university and reaffirm its mission as a public land-grant university committed to enhancing the quality of lives for all citizens. He also envisioned the university as a formidable model amongst the best institutions of higher learning in the world.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni of SC State University, I extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Mrs. Diane Shaw Cooper, and their daughters during this very difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
President Obama released a statement on the passing of Dr. Cooper:
Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. George Cooper, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a native of Tallahassee, FL, George’s love of education and HBCUs began as a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, continuing his education at Tuskegee University and receiving his Ph. D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana. George spent the majority of his life ensuring that students at our nation’s HBCUs were receiving a quality education and had the necessary resources to succeed and make their communities and our country better. He served on the faculty at several universities including Alabama A&M University, Tuskegee University and as President of South Carolina State University. His service extended beyond working with students at institutions. For 17 years, he worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, ensuring that HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions were receiving adequate resources to strengthen research and academic programs. George’s passing is a great loss for my Administration, the HBCU and higher education communities and for everyone that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diane, family and friends during this difficult time.
(Photo Source: South Carolina State Website)