Professor Rhonda Cooper, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is a 1985 graduate of Millsaps College where she received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. Cooper received her law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1988 and has been actively engaged in the practice of law as a civil and criminal trial attorney since that time. She has represented numerous national and local corporate, collective, and individual interests.
In 2012, Cooper joined the faculty at Jackson State University full time, and she serves the University from the Department of Political Science as a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Pre-Law Advisor. She is a member of the Department’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the University’s Reading List and Student-Athlete Mentoring Committees. Cooper’s relevant projects as faculty advisor to the Fannie Lou Hamer Pre-Law Society include bi-semester lecture series events; service learning travel; student internships with local attorneys, judges, and public policy agencies; tutorial and mentoring programs for middle and high school students within the Jackson Public School (JPS) District; and mentoring by the Black Law Student Association at Mississippi College School of Law.
The focus of Cooper’s research has been education and outreach. She was a member of the 2012-2013 Cohort of the University’s Academy for Research and Scholarly Engagement and has begun collecting data for her research proposal, “Creating A Pathway of Success from JPS→JSU&Beyond: Teaching History and Leadership Using Oral Histories and Digital Learning to Develop Public Servant”. Cooper received one of ten 2013 Presidential Creative Awards for Faculty and Staff for her “Enhanced Law School Readiness Program”.
She has procured the oral histories of former Mississippi State Representative Kelvin O. Buck and Mississippi State Representative Kimberly Campbell Buck, and these oral histories are housed at the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi. Cooper has also authored and presented papers at the annual conferences of the Mississippi Political Science Association and the Southern Political Science Association which highlight education as the agent for economic and political empowerment for African Americans in Mississippi post-Brown vs. Board of Education. As a conference panelist, Cooper has discussed the benefits of using oral histories as teaching tools. She has also authored and presented a paper that makes the case against charter schools in Mississippi.
Cooper has volunteered extensively with JPS on various education projects, and she has been recognized for her service to JPS as an outstanding business woman and community leader.