Dr. Allen A. Copping, a member of the inaugural faculty of the LSU School of Dentistry, briefly served as its dean, and was chancellor of the LSU Medical Center (now LSU Health). Ultimately, he became president of the LSU System.
After receiving his dental degree from Loyola University of New Orleans in 1949, Dr. Copping joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an oral surgeon on a hospital ship for five years during the Korean Conflict. After his discharge, he returned to New Orleans and began a successful dental practice while serving on the faculty of the Loyola University School of Dentistry.
In March 1968 he joined the faculty of the newly created LSU School of Dentistry as a clinical associate professor of crown and bridge. He was instrumental in the development of LSUSD and served in several important positions at the school, including director of continuing education and as associate dean. Appointed as the second dean on April 6, 1974, the Louisiana Board of Supervisors called upon Dr. Copping to serve as the third chancellor of the LSU Medical Center on June 13, 1974, where he served with great distinction for the next 11 years.
As chancellor, Dr. Copping helped initiate a remarkable expansion in both the curricular offerings and in the physical facilities as he managed LSU’s two health sciences centers and the university’s statewide network of hospitals and clinics. Under his leadership, the LSU Medical Center in New Orleans added its Medical Education Building and the LSU/Lions Eye Center, helping to establish it as one of the leading health science centers in the South. The LSU Medical Center in Shreveport also acquired its own teaching hospital, the LSU University Hospital.
Dr. Copping also played a key leadership role in the development of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, helping to secure a generous gift of $125 million in 1980 from oilman C.B.”Doc” Pennington and his wife Irene Wells Pennington, at the time the largest single gift to an institution of higher learning in the country.
On March 18, 1985, Dr. Copping became the third president of the LSU System and the 15th LSU President, collectively leading its eight campuses with an annual budget of over $2 billion. During his tenure as president, Dr. Copping guided the LSU System through several challenging years. He oversaw the addition of the Health Care Services Division of the LSU Medical Center. Dr. Copping retired in 1999 after 14 years as president of the LSU System.
In addition to his career as a leader, Dr. Copping published a number of articles in the professional literature addressing the subject of dental education and continuing education, as well as a program for training dental educators. The Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Awards, which recognizes outstanding faculty members at the LSU Health Sciences Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport, is a lasting testament to his contributions in medicine and research.
Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Dr. Copping received numerous honors and awards. He was elected to the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Fraternity in 1983, as a LSU System faculty and administration inductee, and received the Al Borish Distinguished Service Award of the Academy of General Dentistry in 1977. He was a Fellow of the International College of Dentists, Fellow of the American College of Dentists, Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, and a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society, and the C. Victor Vignes Odontological Honorary Dental Society. Dr. Copping also held positions as president of the Advisory Board of the Louisiana State Health and Human Resources Administration from 1973 to 1977, the Governor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Education in Louisiana from 1973 to 1977, and director of continuing education at LSUSD from 1968 to 1975. He served as national chair of the Council on Continuing Education of the Academy of General Dentistry from 1971 to 1976, and as chair of Charity Hospital Board of Administrators in 1972 to 1973, a board on which he served from 1964. Dr. Copping also served as chair of the Charity Hospital of New Orleans Long Range Planning Committee in 1969.
Dr. Copping’s significant engagement in community activities include serving as chair of the United Way of Greater New Orleans University and College Division, chair of the Louisiana Heart Association, chair of the Committee on Dental Education for the Louisiana Dental Association, and delegate from Louisiana for the American Dental Association. He was the founder and first editor of the official New Orleans Dental Association newspaper, NODA, and served as an NCAA faculty representative for the Sugar Bowl Executive Committee in 1979.
Dr. Copping passed away on December 1, 2011 at the age of 84. His wife of 61 years, Elizabeth Hatrel Copping, his father, Allen Copping, and his mother, Marie Burns Copping preceded him in death. He was survived by his children, Lisette Copping Gendusa, Cherie Copping Cobb, and Allen T. Copping.
Dr. Copping earned the respect of the Louisiana health professions community over his long and distinguished career as a dedicated and professional public servant in his many roles at LSU. In 2018 the LSU Board of Supervisors approved naming the new Advanced Clinical Care and Research Building after him to remember his selfless contributions to the education and health care of Louisiana’s students and citizens. Family, friends and colleagues gathered in front of the new building to dedicate it in his memory on May 8, 2019.Back to a Historical Overview