Five African-American students at Duquesne University are the first recipients of scholarships awarded to honor the legacy of Chuck Cooper, one ofthe greatest basketball players in Duquesne history.
Cooper was the first African-American drafted into the NBA and after a six-year career returned to school to earn a master's degree in social work at the Univeristy of Minnesota in 1961. Cooper worked as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Pittsburgh and later as Urban Affairs Officer for Pittsburgh National Bank, now PNC.
“We are extremely proud to award scholarships to these five highly deserving students,” said Chuck Cooper III, president of the Chuck Cooper Foundation and son of the late professional athlete. “This group exemplifies the type of dedication to academic excellence and community service that my father was so passionate about throughout his life. Helping these students to further their academic careers in order to achieve their professional goals is at the heart of the mission of the Cooper Foundation.”
The foundation is supported by the Pittsburgh Steelers, UPMC, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and PNC.
"He came back to PNC where he spearheaded some affirmative action programs and some community development projects and worked on a lot of foundation; and, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Public School Board for a while, so he was always involved in the community, and we're just so proud to be able to honor his legacy by continuing to give back," said Cooper III. PNC provided a $5,000 scholarship that the Cooper Foundation awarded to Rufus Burnett. The four other students received small scholarships.
Additional scholarship winners for study at Duquesne are:
· Juel Smith, $3,000, School of Education Instructional Technology and Leadership
· Florence St. Jean, $1,000, School of Education
· Michelle Outcalt, $1,000, School of Leadership and Professional Advancement
· Candice Aston, $1,000, Ph.D. in Philosophy