Cooper, a former chair of U of G’s Board of Governors, also delivered the convocation address at the CME’s graduation ceremony. Prior to the convocation, Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of the College of CME hosted a private dinner at the Cutten Club in Guelph, in the hotelier’s honour.
In nearly five decades Cooper has served in increasingly senior executive positions at Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts, Dan Hotels, Delta Hotels & Resorts, OMNI Hotels U.S.A. and Marriott Lodging International. He is currently president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the luxury subsidiary of Marriott International, Inc.
Described as a “leader of people” and a role model, he has been credited with advancing the career opportunities of young professionals and increasing the professionalism of talent within the industry. Cooper’s is known for writing personal thank-you cards to employees who have gone above and beyond. “They may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel,” he has said.
The hotelier has extended his impact on the industry through involvement with various associations and boards. Notably, he was one of the principal forces behind the creation of the Canadian Tourism Commission, was the first member of the hospitality industry to be appointed director of the Conference Board of Canada and holds an appointment at the Canada Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. What’s more, his career has been honoured with numerous awards.