Starting this week, there will be a new face around campus–and she wants to meet you.

Dr. Lesley Cooper has taken over as Principal/Vice-President of the Brantford campus with the departure of Dr. Leo Groarke to the University of Windsor. It is a position that she will fill until July 2013.

“The campus is young and vibrant,” says the new Principal/Vice-President. “I [have] really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know more about Brantford and its people.”

With experience as Dean of the Faculty of Social Work on the Waterloo campus, as well as experience as a community worker and social planner for local governments in Australia, Dr. Cooper has a unique history that will help her in her new role.

“There are many parallels between the initiatives of the cities of Brantford and Kitchener [where the Faculty of Social Work is located]. When I arrived, the Kitchener downtown revitalization process was just beginning,” she explains. “I see many similar developments and opportunities in Brantford [and] I will certainly use my experience of being on a separate campus as I work at Brantford.”

Along with her role as Dean of FSW, Dr. Cooper also participated in the City of Kitchener Downtown Advisory Committee which helped plan how the city could continue with the revitalization of the downtown area. This strikes a similar chord to the growth of Laurier Brantford.

With her three-and-a-half year term devoted to providing stable leadership over a growing campus, Dr. Cooper has a clear idea of what she would like to see accomplished during her tenure. She intends to build on the plans, directions and achievements that have already been established specifically by Laurier Brantford, as well as using the academic plan that is currently being developed as a framework for the future. She also envisions that the campus’ development will incorporate several core values including: diversity and inclusion, a community focus, and internationalization and global engagement, among others.

As the campus continues to grow, Dr. Cooper has hopes to help develop new academic programs. One particular program of interest to her would be a Bachelor of Social Work.

She hopes the future of Laurier Brantford will also involve a committed partnership with the community at large.

“It is important not to forget the local community as an important partner. Laurier Brantford is located in a community which has supported the growth of the campus and the whole downtown area,” she says.

And since the campus is close to the Six Nations, she is interested in “facilitating relationships with this significant community and meeting the needs of students who come from this area.”

But for now, with over three years ahead of her, Dr. Cooper is just settling into her new position. She knows integration won’t happen overnight, but she’ll make the effort. “In my first few weeks, I will focus on getting to know as many students, faculty and staff as I can by attending meetings and academic and social events.”

As for getting to know her, Dr. Cooper says she enjoys the outdoors—hiking, camping, canoeing and cross-country skiing. She reads thrillers and regularly Skypes with her children. And when she’s not doing this, she will try to maintain her involvement in research and teaching.

“I like the creativity of teaching and I hope there is time in this position to continue with this.”

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