Western Michigan University will be holding a memorial ceremony in honor of Dr. Van E. Cooley this Sunday, October 21.
Dr. Cooley died suddenly this summer while he was in Florida. Cooley was active in the College of Education, and the ceremony will be held in Sangren Hall.
Cooley was appointed to serve as interim dean of WMU’s College of Education for 2012, according to WMU News. He also served as chair of the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology. Before coming to WMU, Cooley was a middle and high school teacher for many years in Indiana, and he also served as a superintendent for a high school.
“He had a great heart,” said Patricia Reeves, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology (ELRT). Reeves had known Cooley for 17 years. “He was compassionate, but he didn’t wear it out openly. He had a limitless work ethic, and loyalty was very important to him.”
“His outreach was very important,” said Walter Burt, an associate professor in ELRT who knew Cooley for eight years. “He had a deep concern with the university to be responsive to the community and their needs.”
Cooley is well-known for creating state and national award-winning programs that consist of professional development initiatives, the incorporation of technology in classrooms, and the assisting of the needs of at-risk students. He also was the co-principal investigator of $9 million in grants from the Wallace Foundation and the United States Department of Education.
“Van was a builder,” said Reeves. “He would look at a current situation and say, ‘How can we grow?’ and ‘How can we support that?’”
He made a tremendous impact in the use of data and many school improvement programs in the state,” said Burt.
The newly built Sangren Hall was a major focus of Cooley’s work during the final months of his life, according to WMU News. Cooley loved the University and made a great impact on many lives.
“He fought for this department [ELRT] and this university,” said Burt.
Dr. Cooley’s memorial service will be held in 1910 Sangren Hall at 1 pm this Sunday. Memorial contributions can be made to the WMU Foundation.
Though Dr. Cooley is no longer with us, colleagues say his contribution to WMU and the College of Education will be remembered for years to come. Friends and colleagues of Dr. Cooley will never forget the passion he put in to the University and College of Education as well as the different programs that have touched the lives of many people over the years.
“Cooley loved working with students,” said Burt. “He always listened to them. He was deeply committed to the University.”