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Former head of dentistry department Allen Copping passes away

December 2, 2011

Dr. Allen A. Copping, former head of the Department of Dental Anatomy in Loyola University’s School of Dentistry, died yesterday at his home in New Orleans following a lengthy illness. He was 84.

Copping, a New Orleans native, studied dentistry at Loyola University New Orleans, receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1949. He served in the U.S. Navy for five years during the Korean War. His time in the military included a stint as head of oral surgery on a hospital ship. After discharge, Copping returned to New Orleans where he maintained a private dental practice before going into medical education and rising rapidly through the administrative ranks.

He was head of Loyola’s dental anatomy department from 1956 to 1970, and subsequently served as associate dean and then dean of the LSU School of Dentistry from 1971 to 1974. In 1974, he was named chancellor of the LSU Medical Center in New Orleans and was appointed to lead the LSU System by the Board of Supervisors on March 16, 1985, succeeding Dr. Martin D. Woodin as the third system president. He served as LSU system president for 14 years.

“His behind the scenes work in getting the LSU School of Dentistry open was important for the clinical health care of the citizens of Louisiana and promotion of research in the field of oral medicine. Dr. Copping’s commitment and passion for the success of higher education throughout Louisiana was second to none. We lost a great friend and mentor yesterday,” said Dr. Michael Giorlando, director of Athletics and Wellness at Loyola University and an alumnus of LSU’s dental school.

During his tenure with LSU, Copping managed two health sciences centers and the university’s statewide network of hospitals and clinics. Current LSU System President Dr. John V. Lombardi praised Copping’s “broad gauge vision” and “exceptional leadership.”

Lombardi noted, “Allen Copping's contributions to the history of the Louisiana State University System and this state were extraordinary. A mentor for many of Louisiana's academic and health care professionals, Dr. Copping's legacy will remain as a permanently enduring testimony to the exceptional leadership that defines America's best academic institutions.”

Copping retired as system president on March 31,1999. His contributions to medicine and research are remembered annually with the Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding faculty at the LSU Health Sciences centers in New Orleans and Shreveport that have demonstrated a life-long pursuit of discovery and inspire their students.

Copping’s wife, Betty, died in 2010. Three children, Allen T., Lisette, and Cherie, who reside in New Orleans, survive him.

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