CULLOWHEE – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has appointed Casey Cooper, chief executive officer of Cherokee Indian Hospital, to fill an unexpired term on the Board of Trustees at Western Carolina University.
The action came during the Board of Governors meeting Friday, July 27, in Chapel Hill.
Cooper, who has been involved in American Indian health care for 25 years, is a member of the WCU Board of Visitors and recently served on the search committee tasked with identifying a successor for the university’s late chancellor, David O. Belcher.
Cooper is filling a vacancy created by the departure of board member Gaither M. Keener, former chief legal counsel for Lowe’s Companies Inc., who stepped down from his board position earlier this year for medical reasons.
“WCU has been and will continue to be one of the most significant strategic partners for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the region of Western North Carolina,” Cooper said. “Community and economic development, as well as the prosperity of future generations, will be determined by the quality of our workforce, the development of creative and intellectual capital, and most importantly, the compassion and consciousness of our humanity. As such, the continued success of WCU is paramount to the region and I will be honored to serve as a trustee.”
A graduate of Gardner-Webb University, Cooper holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
He has served the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and its community since 1993 as a primary care nurse, community health nurse, nurse educator and nursing manager. As health director of the EBCI from 1999 to 2004, he helped shape public health policy with a focus on chronic disease prevention and led a communitywide initiative to assume the management responsibilities of Cherokee Indian Hospital from the Indian Health Services through an Indian Self-Determination Agreement.
Cooper’s appointment on the WCU board is effective through June 30, 2021.