Jefferson native earns prestigious achievement award at Texas A&M

Jefferson native John T. Cooper Ph.D., urban planning associate professor of practice at Texas A&M University, received a 2017 Dis­tinguished Achievement Award, an honor presented annually by the university and The Association of Former Students.

Cooper and 24 fellow awardees, honored for exhibiting the highest standards of excellence in teaching and service, received the awards April 24, 2017, at ceremonies in Texas A&M’s Rudder Theatre.

A university-wide committee of faculty, students, staff and former students selected awardees for the prestigious honor in seven cate­gories based on their resumés and letters of nomination and support from colleagues and students.

Cooper also directs Texas Target Communities, a college outreach unit that provides urban planning for Texas communities in need. Cooper earned an award in the extension, outreach, continuing edu­cation and professional development category.

Under Cooper’s leadership, TTC has invested almost 12,000 hours of student and faculty expertise to provide municipal planning as­sistance to more than 20 Texas communities across the state, and has connected communities to resources offered by the Texas A&M System.

Among TTC’s projects is an initiative that’s helping transform Man­chester, an inner-city Houston community, by providing students in nearby Furr High School with extraordinary educational opportuni­ties that include training from graduate urban planning students to gather and test the toxicity of the impoverished community’s ground­water.

TTC students are also teaching Furr students to gather data to inform infrastructure development, community design options and city planning.

The partnership helped Furr garner a $10 million grant from XQ, a foundation that rewards schools creating new learning models for students seeking to excel in a world characterized by constant change.

Cooper also led TTC’s efforts to host the 2017 Sustainable City Year Conference, a gathering of university educators from across the na­tion who discussed how to improve their research and service proj­ects that enhance communities and provide transformative learning experiences for students.

He is also interim director of the Center for…

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