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Joe Cooper: Admired by UW Students in and out of the Classroom

April 28, 2014
Man smiling
Joe Cooper

University of Wyoming Management and Marketing Assistant Professor Joseph Cooper’s ability to interact with students to create a positive and open classroom environment has earned him universal admiration by his students.

Such admiration has led to many teaching awards for Cooper, including his selection this year for the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. The awards are made possible by a fund established by Ellbogen to "foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students.

This year’s other winners are David Finnoff, associate professor in the Department of Economics and Finance; and Jeffrey Selden, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics.

A quick glance at his student evaluations reveals the significant impact that Cooper has had on the lives of his students, placing him among the elite teachers at UW.

“Joe Cooper was one of the best instructors I have had while attending the University of Wyoming,” according to one evaluation. “You can tell Joe cares about his students. He goes out of his way by doing anything he can do to increase a student's chance in excelling after graduation.”

Another evaluation notes, “Cooper taught me so much in this class. The material was very useful and he had students take part in every presentation and activity. These helped me remember the material and understand how it would help me through the real world. I realize now that it was useful to me, to understand who I am as a manager and leader.”

Student Cody Friedlan, who took Cooper’s classes for two years, says it also is important to recognize his positive personality and service to students outside of class.

“I looked forward going to Dr. Cooper's classes -- I knew that I would learn something meaningful and enjoy his upbeat, encouraging personality,” Friedlan wrote. “Each day, Dr. Cooper brought a positive, enthusiastic, caring and inspiring attitude to class.  He pushed us to think in the classroom, but was there for support and guidance along the way. “

It’s no surprise, then, that Cooper has been recognized for his teaching abilities since arriving at UW. He has been recognized for excellence by receiving the College of Business Junior Faculty Teaching Award, an Outstanding Faculty Award from Alpha Kappa Psi's UW chapter, and a Top Prof award from the UW Mortar Board chapter. Students frequently mention that his door is always open, and that he is willing to talk with them about subjects that go beyond classroom assignments.

“Dr. Cooper has been a true mentor to me; from answering  my questions and providing advice about careers and industry, to providing advice about networking and moving forward in life,” says Friedlan. “He has always been there to provide insight and guidance. “

Other students appreciate Cooper’s influence on their careers. Allegra Ramey, a 2013 UW MBA graduate who now works for the Bureau of Land Management, wrote,” I was most admirable of the passion and wisdom brought to the classroom by Mr. Cooper.

“He included everything in his teaching; interaction from the students inside and outside the classroom, personal experiences in work and in life, visual learning aids such as movie clips, and also encouragement for each of his students -- encouragement that each student was important,” she added.

Cooper joined the UW faculty in 2009. He received a B.S. degree in civil engineering (1997) and an MBA (2003) at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University; and a Ph.D. in labor and human resources (2009) at Ohio State University.

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