On Sunday, July 19, the White House announced the death of George Cooper, Ph.D., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Cooper attended Florida A&M University and Tuskegee University before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana.
In a statement, President Obama said Cooper had spent most of his life working to ensure that students at HBCUs received a quality education and had the resources they needed to succeed. He had served on the faculty at several universities, including Alabama A&M and Tuskegee, and as president of South Carolina State.
In addition, he had worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for 17 years to ensure that minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs, received the resources they needed to strengthen their research and academic programs.
President Obama called Cooper’s death “a great loss” for his administration. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, emphasized in a statement Cooper’s “full and extraordinary career” promoting excellence across the country’s HBCUs and his wisdom in forming important partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government. He called Cooper’s career “a tremendous contribution.” Others said his legacy would live on for generations. No cause of death was given.