Use the space below to leave your thoughts, stories, and memorials about Dr. Van Cooley.
It is with great sorrow that I learned of the passing of my good friend and former colleague, Dr. Van Cooley. He was a good man, a dedicated and talented professional and a man who loved his family. It was my pleasure to know him and to work with him during my time as Dean at WMU. He will be missed by all of us. My prayers and thoughts are with his dear family and with all of you. He made a significant contribution to the success of WMU and to the College of Education and Human Development and most certainly to each of us who were blessed to call him friend.
ROLE MODEL/MENTOR/FRIEND- Most recently I worked with Van on the Learner-Centered Leadership Development Program. I was a recently graduated, underemployed PhD and Van brought me in to the fold. This is but one example of how Van mentored and assisted me as an ELRT student.
Sometimes (actually frequently) he cussed me out as his Doc student when I was under-performing, gave me invaluable feedback as my dissertation neared completion, hooked me up with researchers at WMU that helped me hone my research topic, and served as a model graduate instructor when I took his school law (my favorite class by far) and other courses….I am still in shock that he won’t be here to tease, cajole, lead, and admonish me as I work to build a career in higher ed.
He is already missed. If I can achieve even a small percentage of his influence, teaching skill, positive energy, and true leadership then that will be an accomplishment…
Where do I begin? Van was one of a kind. He had the capacity for incredible vision and kindness. Van could also be amazingly stubborn and challenging. At times, he was all of these things at the same time! I joke with folks that having a relationship with Van was the epitome of a love-hate relationship–there were times when I could be so annoyed with Van… Then, he would go out of his way to support me even if he didn’t agree with me.
Mostly, I am extremely appreciative of his belief in me, even when I wasn’t sure of myself. From the day he asked me to step in as Acting Chair of ELRT until the last conversation we had before he left for Crystal Mountain and Florida, he assured me that I was doing a great job. Thank you Van–I will miss your guidance and goofy grin.
He was expert, smart, and kind. I will not forget the first meeting with him. It’s gave me a great impression for him till now. It is easy for him to discover the abilities of anyone from the first meeting. Really, he was a good man and he left a good memory.
What a good man and a good friend. I miss him each day, and still cannot walk across the parking lot without expecting that I’m going to run into him. A terrible loss. I hope we will have the sense of purpose to follow through on the path he has laid out for us. That would be part of a fitting tribute.
It’s been said that you can tell the true character of a man by the companions that he keeps. By that measure alone, my dad would have been known as a man of great compassion and generosity. On behalf of the Cooley family, I would like to thank you for the hugs, shoulders to lean on, flowers, phone calls and emails. I’d also like to thank those of you who made the bus trip to Indianapolis last weekend. By your words and actions, we have felt loved and comforted.
My friendship with Van goes back to our public school days in Marion, IN. As I wrote in the dedication of my dissertation that Van’s assistance went well beyond the definition of friendship. What I will remember the most about Van was his mentoring during my early years in public school administration and the long weekends skiing in northern Michigan. Van I will miss you.
Van was the consummate professor and educational leader. I truly admired his dedication and devotion to his students and WMU. Van and I were at opposite poles on almost every serious and mundane issue. Through our constant and prolonged bantering, we developed a friendship and mutual relationship that was only understood by the few. I will miss my dear friend, Van.
Brother Van, my sadness has not left. Through the ups, the downs and YES, the sideways, somehow we always came back to that deep friendship that grew over the years. The early KRESA Grant years, my dissertation years, Wallace Grant years and what we were fondly calling our Winter Years (of life). I miss our long conversations about where we came from and how we got to where we were. I’m sure you and Scooter are having fun walking each other again. I always remember what you would tell me, “Dr. Rainey, even Hollywood can’t make some of this shit up!” You rest well, my dear friend.
IT SADDENS ME DEEPLY TO HEAR THAT MY ENDURING DOCTORAL COMMITTEE CHAIR WHO DISAGREED AND AGREED WITH ME TILL I DEFENDED SUCCESSFULLY AND GRADUATED IS GONE. MY EYES ARE SOAKED WITH TEARS. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE AND MAY THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GET ANOTHER LEADER AS DR. COOLEY. DR. MANJERNGIE C.ND EBE, RN, PHD
I hope you didn’t mind that I brought you up in my speech last week, Van. I know you would have been laughing at me from the back of the room, and there with a hug of congratulations afterward, despite your dislike of hugging. Missing you as much as ever. Until next time.
I always appreciated Van’s desire to mentor others. He’d sit back in his chair and give a shy chuckle and then in his own way, give advice that sounded more like a father’s concern than a university administrator. He really cared about his colleagues and our students. He is missed everyday.
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