Dr. Darla Cooper
Dr. Darla M. Cooper is an educational leader and expert in research and evaluation dedicated to using inquiry, data, and evidence to improve the lives of all community college students. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Research and Planning Group for the California Community Colleges (The RP Group).
Dr. Cooper has worked in the California Community Colleges system for over 20 years, having previously held institutional research director positions at Santa Barbara City College, Oxnard College, and Ohlone College. She led Student Support (Re)defined, a landmark research project that examined what supports student success, and co-led Through the Gate, a research study that examines what happens with students who appear ready to transfer, but do not. She is currently co-directing the African American Transfer Tipping Point and Exploring Geographic Isolation as a Barrier to Equitable Transfer Outcomes projects, two studies that specifically examine transfer success among African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina/o/x, rural, and economically disadvantaged students.
Dr. Cooper has extensive experience serving as an external evaluator for several federal and private foundation grants and has worked on various other projects designed to promote student success including the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, The RP Group’s Bridging Research Information and Culture (BRIC) initiative, and the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project.
Dr. Cooper also has direct experience assisting students in achieving their educational goals in her previous work at the University of Southern California as a director of research and information, student services counselor, and ombudsperson. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and an MSEd and EdD from the University of Southern California.
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