2022 TU Vulcan teaching award presented to alumna

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This year’s recipient of the Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award at Thomas University was Leslie Cooper, who serves as the Program Director and the Clinical Coordinator of TU’s Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science.

Cooper is also a TU alumna. She graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in 1995 and a Bachelor of Science in MLS in 2017. Then she went on to earn a Master of Science Degree in Medical Laboratory Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2019.

Leslie Cooper

A resident of Pavo, Georgia, Cooper said the online MLS program’s flexibility was one of the main reasons she chose TU to further her education.

“Even though I was local to TU, I liked that option and also the personal connection and help that I got from everyone on campus and virtually,” she said. “I was able to take classes and continue to work. There is also a long-standing relationship with the hospital where I was employed when I started taking classes for the program, so I knew several people that had completed it.”

Cooper began her career at TU as the MLS Program Advisor and Administrative Assistant to the Division of Science. In 2018 she moved into her current position.

“I choose to work at TU mostly because of the long history of teaching excellence and quality programs offered at TU,” Cooper said. “I actually began working at TU before I finished my BS. Even though I had planned on returning to the laboratory setting once I finished my BS, I found that I loved the education side of the field. When the opportunity opened up to run the very program that I completed, I jumped at the opportunity.”

As Program Director and the Clinical Coordinator of the MLS program, Cooper manages all Master shells for the MLS courses and coordinates all of the clinical placements for her students. Managing clinical placements requires that she establish a clinical contract (MOU) with the facility and ensure that the students meet the facility requirements by collecting the required documents. Since the MLS students are not confined to a local geographic area, these clinical contracts are updated every semester.

In addition to her workload, Cooper maintains her certification in the American Society for Clinical Pathology MLS and earned additional recognition as an Allied Health Instructor for the American Medical Technologists.

The administrator who nominated Cooper for the Vulcan Award pointed out that during the past year, she has been responsible for the organization, development, and general management of the MLS program in addition to her full-time teaching duties. She wrote a self-study report and hosted a virtual accreditation site visit. To prepare for the accreditation site visit, Cooper had to update most of the MLS curriculum to include program and course learning outcomes, develop a curriculum map and program assessment method, and manage all of these updates for the TU curriculum committee, catalog, and the Canvas course shells.

Receiving the Vulcan Award recognizes Cooper’s commitment to her students and TU.

For the past 27 years, Vulcan Material Company Southeast Division, in conjunction with the Georgia Independent College Association, has been honoring an outstanding professor with the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award at select Georgia Independent College Association members. This award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who demonstrates strong academic skills in the classroom and provides leadership and support in the other areas of campus life.  The recipients are faculty who assist the institution in nurturing an academic climate that fosters teaching and provide leadership to enhance the campus community.

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