Rod Cooper   2002 UNB Service Award Recipient

The nomination of Professor Rod Cooper for a UNB Service Award is based on Rod's fulfillment of what my son called when he was young "a real professor." His definition of a "real professor" was what he (at the age of 11) considered to be the reason the world has professors: to challenge and stimulate their students; to be interesting, well-informed, insightful, dynamic, provocative, and committed educators, people who have something important to share, and who do that sharing in a powerful way. Rod is such a professor.

Prof. Cooper's commitment to students has manifested itself in a very wide-ranging assortment of activities. He has taught a wide number of courses to both undergraduate and graduate students, and has been nominated by his students for the Stuart Award several times. He has volunteered to teach courses on overload many times, sometimes when there was no one else to teach a required course, and other times when there was so much interest on the part of students in a particular subject that Rod elected to offer a previously unscheduled course. He has acted as a Don in residence and as a Faculty Advisor and Senior Advisor in our Faculty for many years, and has spent countless hours counseling students with every conceivable problem, from homesickness to clinical depression, from listening to students who are thinking of dropping out of school to convincing students to continue on with graduate school. He has probably spent as much of his after hours time seeing students with personal problems as he has on research efforts and course preparation - and that is a great deal of time. As a testimony to the kind of impact Rod has had on our students, he has been best man at the wedding of five of his students, and godfather to two of their children.

Rod has imparted his love of learning to countless students. Much of his success at this can be credited to his infectious enthusiasm for his subject, and also for the breadth of interests he brings to the classroom. He has applied his computer science and mathematics background to a diversity of application areas. He has demonstrated his ability to form interdisciplinary groups to apply innovative computing solutions to problems in both the humanities and the sciences, including a database for Shakespearean stage directions with Dr. Don Rowan in English, Augustinian Latin concordances with Dr. Leo Ferrari in Philosophy at St. Thomas, database work with the N.B. Drug Dependency Commission, and most recently the development of innovative new courses in drug design and biocomputing with Dr. Ghislain Deslongchamps in Chemistry. All of these experiences have had a broadening experience on the students who have been exposed to these projects, either directly or through the engaging way in which Rod brings research work and life experiences to the classroom.

Prof. Cooper has had a long and significant association with the information technology industry and with the provincial government. The previous V.P. (Research and International Cooperation), Dr. John McLaughlin, made use of these contacts and reputation by requesting that Prof. Cooper act as his advisor on information technology. In doing so, Prof. Cooper spent many hours in discussion with industry leaders around the province to determine their vision for the future and how UNB can play a meaningful role. Prof. Cooper's activities in this role brought him additional contacts that are having beneficial spin-offs for both the province and UNB. He helped bring at least one large company to New Brunswick by convincing them of the cooperation they would receive from UNB in the way of ongoing IT training. A more recent outcome of this outreach effort was the inauguration of a $4,000 scholarship for a Computer Science student, arranged with his consultation by the company Rod helped bring to New Brunswick.

Throughout Prof. Cooper's 26-year career at UNB, the constant in his work has been his belief that our students are our priority. I believe the success with which he has lived this belief, and the outstanding service he has provided in this regard, makes him a worthy recipient of the UNB Service Award.

Presented by Jane Fritz, Dean of Computer Science
February 8, 2002