David H. Cooper named dean of School of Education

David H. Cooper, associate dean for undergraduate programs and school partnerships in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, has been named dean of the School of Education at Elon University.

David H. Cooper (photo by Barbara Tyroler)

His appointment by Provost Gerald Francis and incoming Provost Steven House comes after a national search. Cooper will begin his duties June 1, succeeding Gerald Dillashaw who stepped down as dean in May 2008 after serving for 16 years.

Cooper has worked for the past quarter century at the University of Maryland, starting as an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education. He was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and was named director of professional development schools in the College of Education in 2001. He left that position in 2007 to assume his duties as interim associate dean.

“Dr. Cooper has exceptional experience in building university-school partnerships and understanding how students and teachers benefit from those connections,” said Leo M. Lambert, Elon University president. “We look forward to his leadership in expanding Elon’s ties with our local schools, teachers and principals.”

Cooper specializes in early childhood, with an emphasis on preschool and primary-grade students who have, or are at risk for, learning and behavioral disabilities. His research focuses on student achievement in professional development schools, as well as disorders of literacy development. Cooper is also co-founder of Camp Attaway, a Maryland therapeutic day camp for children with emotional or behavioral disorders.

“Dean Dillashaw and interim Dean Judith Howard, along with their hard-working faculty, have positioned the Elon School of Education very well,” Cooper said. “I look forward to leading this talented faculty toward national prominence. Together with our public school and community partners, we have an opportunity to significantly improve education both for children and their teachers in local, state and national school systems.”

Cooper has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from Brown University, a master’s of education (special education) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate from UNC-Chapel Hill with a major in special education and a minor in developmental psychology.

Cooper has taught courses related in various ways to special education, including curriculum and instructional methods in both special education and in early childhood special education, assessment of educational handicaps and theory/empirical design in special education research. He has co-authored chapters in eight edited books, published in more than a dozen scholarly journals and has made 50 professional presentations. He received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Service to the Schools by the University of Maryland in 1997.

Cooper has been a past editorial board member for the Journal of Early Intervention, Exceptional Children and Journal of Special Education. At the University of Maryland, he served on the Vice President’s Advisory Council, the Graduate Council, and the Faculty Review Board of the Student Honor Council. Cooper has also been a member of several boards and commissions in the College of Education and the Department of Special Education.

Before entering academia, Cooper worked as a special education teacher in Round Rock, Texas, and at Graham High School in Alamance County, N.C., where he was a special education teacher in 1979-80. He also served as a research associate at the University of Colorado Institute for Behavioral Genetics, and was a research fellow and project coordinator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at Chapel Hill, N.C.