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After 33 years away from Penn's campus, 1975 Law School alumnus Jeffrey Cooper will return on July 1 to take over as the new Vice President for Government and Community Affairs.

Currently the chief counsel for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the executive deputy general counsel to Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, Cooper has had years of professional experience with the government and the law at local and national levels, specifically with higher-education institutions.

"Through his experience at the 14-university state system of higher education, [Cooper] has developed a deep understanding of the varied and complex issues confronting higher education today," Penn President Amy Gutmann said.

She added that Cooper has "great experience in state and local affairs" and will be "an outstanding addition to our leadership team."

Vice President and Chief of Staff Greg Rost and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli led the search process, with the help of a third-party search firm. Gutmann interviewed the finalists and made the final decision to hire Cooper.

Rost said the search team was impressed by Cooper's simultaneous role in two government entities, working with both PSSHE and Rendell.

With PSSHE, Cooper oversees 14 college campuses and more than 108,000 students. In his role with the governor, Cooper oversees more than 100 attorneys.

In his new position, Cooper will manage the relationship between the University and state, local and federal government entities at both community and national levels.

Cooper said that though he is "just beginning to learn about the Office of Government and Community Affairs," he plans to integrate it further with the University.

"I want to build on and strengthen what's already there and make it more responsive to the needs of the deans of the various schools," he said.

Cooper earned his bachelors's degree from Northwestern University in 1972, graduated from Penn Law in 1975 and went on to work at two professional law firms, holding associate and partner positions. In 2003, he joined the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the chief counsel of higher education and was also appointed as executive deputy general counsel to the governor in 2005.

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