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Insight Kathleen B. Cooper - Business Plans by Roddy Wolper


Mean Green Village


What's Been Happening



The new dean of UNT's business administration is putting her economics experience to work. But it's not her first time on the North Texas Campus.

What do you remember about North Texas from your year as a student here in 1963?
My most vivid memories are connected to the friends I made; however, I also remember long lines at registration and the strict curfew rules for women when I was a Crumley resident.


Kathleen B Cooper

I never had an actual plan for going to college, and I hadn’t devoted much time to thinking about the pursuit of a professional career, so when I came to North Texas as a freshman in 1963, I was evaluating. I wanted to see if college was the right place for me.

One thing I had in common with many of UNT’s current students is that during most of my undergraduate years, I had to juggle classes and a work schedule. I took lots of night classes.

In the course of your career, what have been your greatest challenges and accomplishments?
The first great challenge of my career was working my way through college. Following my year at North Texas and marriage, I worked as a personnel clerk while my husband finished up at Texas A&M (he graduated with a degree in math and has taught math and coached basketball at the high school and junior college levels).

I realized that getting full enjoyment out of my life would involve seeking a career that would always keep me interested and involved. That’s when I made a 100 percent commitment to completing my education.

I decided near the end of my undergraduate degree in math that I enjoyed economics a great deal and could use my mathematics background. Considering that when I started college there didn’t appear to be many opportunities for women in the field of economics — I was one of only two women in my economics master’s program — I consider my role as the chief economist of ExxonMobil Corp. a major career accomplishment.

Also, my work in Washington, D.C., as under secretary for economic affairs was the experience of a lifetime. When I began college, such a possibility seemed completely out of reach.

During my time at the Commerce Department, the division under my leadership permanently changed the way the decennial census is conducted. The Census Bureau now updates the population of the United States and its cities and towns throughout the decade instead of only once a decade, providing much more useful information and improving the way we measure the U.S. economy. That will always be a tremendous source of pride for me.

What brought you to this point in your life, becoming a dean?
I’ve enjoyed every step along the way of my career — from a smallish bank in Colorado to a very large bank in California to ExxonMobil to working for the public good at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Although becoming an academic dean is a step in a new direction for me, I believe my years of experience in the private sector and in the federal government will serve me well.

What are some of your plans for the College of Business Administration?
The work of our highly talented teachers and researchers on the business faculty impacts business practices in the North Texas region and beyond. My first objective is to take advantage of our recognized programs in entrepreneurship, logistics and supply chain management, and accounting. The next step is to focus on improving the prominence and stature of all of the programs we offer. Only after we address our existing programs and develop synergies among them will we concentrate on new strengths.

Additionally, we have a clear need for a new building. Right now, all business departments share space in a building that opened in 1960 — a time when the college had 1,800 students and 38 faculty members. We simply must have more room and new technologically equipped facilities for our current 5,000-plus students and more than 100 faculty members. Fortunately, current university planning calls for construction of a 200,000-square-foot building by 2010.

We will also seek additional resources to help our graduates qualify for the best jobs and leave school without too high a debt burden. We must provide more opportunities and incentives for our talented faculty to achieve higher recognition for UNT around the region and nation. And we must make a stronger effort to connect or reconnect with our alumni.

In what areas do you think the College of Business Administration can grow?
Certainly, we want to grow, but I want to emphasize that our goals are not restricted to increasing the number of students. We want to determine new ways to grow the quality of the UNT business educational experience. One area in which we’ve already begun to make impressive strides is developing and providing our students with opportunities for global experiences.

Our college offers excellent study-abroad opportunities. One of the most noteworthy is the first program from any American university to visit U.S. manufacturing interests in Hong Kong, Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta in China.

We must also continue to prepare our graduates for today’s technology-oriented workplace.

What do you like to do away from work?
I like to travel far and wide. One of the most fascinating countries for me is China. I’ve been able to travel there about a dozen times over the past 15 years as well as to a considerable number of other very interesting countries around the globe.

Relaxing for me also requires getting away from the hefty dose of economics reading so intertwined with my work. For that, I enjoy spy novels and mysteries. My husband feeds me a constant supply, which definitely provides some needed


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