Dr. George Cooper was welcomed officially last month at the 24th Installation of the President and Vice Chancellor of the University of King’s College.
He has been in the role since July, when former president Anne Leavitt resigned less than a year after taking the job.
“At first I thought, well, maybe being an interim President would like being a Hanging Chad – you’re not in but you’re not out either,” Dr. Cooper said, addressing the crowd, “but it hasn’t been like that at all.”
Many of the faculty, staff and students present offered words of support to the new president.
“I see Dr. Cooper as a kind of modern Roman, someone who exercises the virtue of pietas, piety, and a devotion to the community at all levels,” said Dr. Peter O’Brien, a professor in Dalhousie University’s Classics department.
“He does it because he knows that individual service tends towards the good of all and that kind of service has sustained our institution through thick and thin in the two and a quarter centuries it’s existed. He may be only here for a couple of years, but his legacy will live on.”
Susan Moxley, the Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and Doctor Tom Traves, president of Dalhousie, both expressed confidence in Cooper’s abilities and in the future of King’s.
Terra-Lee Bruhm, the assistant registrar, said she noted Cooper’s sense of humor and sincerity during the event.
“Any fine vessel needs a skilled captain to help it navigate through the harsh, ever changing waters of time. Dr. Cooper has already demonstrated that he is a man who knows how to effectively lead a crew toward prosperity,” she said.
“Captain Cooper, we the staff of the University of King’s College look forward to seeking wider horizons with you.”
The address was not all jokes, however, with Cooper giving a positive report on the state of King’s. He said he had lots of ideas for the future.
“King’s has been many things in the past: a law school, a mining school, a divinity school, but they’re long behind us. For the future, wonderful new intellectual opportunities are open to us,” said Cooper.
“For example, with the rise of China and India, should we think about an upper year combined honours program, in partnership with Dalhousie, to compare and contrast Western and Eastern cultures, civilizations and literature?” he said.
“To seize these and other opportunities we need to keep our eyes high and we must dare to know.”
For those wondering about Cooper’s path after his term, he left no illusions. “After my two year sentence, I’m out of here,” he said, “even though I have come to like my jail and love my jailors.”
“But fair warning when I’m gone, I fully expect to be made into a Halifax street.”