Dean Guthrie announced that Jim Cooper, longtime representative of Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, has joined Vanderbilt Law School as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence.
In this role, Cooper will teach a class on Congress, guest lecture in other classes, offer mentorship, and participate in Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation (VPA)-related activities, among other things.
“We are thrilled to welcome Congressman Cooper to Vanderbilt Law School this year,” said Dean Guthrie. “Jim is a true intellectual, and our students will benefit tremendously from his decades of congressional experience, bipartisan mindset, and budgetary acumen.”
“Vanderbilt is a national treasure, and Vandy students are fantastic,” said Cooper. “I want to help them succeed in the policy world. We all need their energy, talent, fresh thinking, and idealism.”
Cooper represented Tennessee’s 5th Congressional district from 1983-1995 and 2003-2023. He served as chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee that oversees the nation’s nuclear installations and satellites and as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the Committee on Budget, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, serving on more committees than any other member of Congress. Cooper is the third-longest serving member of Congress ever from Tennessee.
A New York Times columnist called Cooper “the House’s conscience, a lonely voice for civility in this ugly era” and a “tart-tongued moderate” who “seeks bipartisanship on fiscal matters and other issues in a polarized political climate.” USA Today named him one of the “Brave 38” of a “tiny band of heroes” in Congress for his work on a bipartisan budget plan.
“Jim Cooper is a thoughtful, distinguished, and dedicated public servant, and we are very excited for him to bring his decades of experience and deep commitment to careful policy analysis to the VLS community,” said Ganesh Sitaraman, Director of the VPA and New York Alumni Chancellor’s Chair in Law.
Between stints in Congress, Cooper worked as an investment banker at Equitable Securities in Nashville and later co-founded Brentwood Capital Advisors, a boutique investment bank in Nashville. He also taught health policy at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management for two decades.
After earning his J.D. from Harvard Law School, Cooper spent two years working for the firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP in Nashville before running for Congress. Prior to attending Harvard, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, where he was a student at Oriel College. He earned a B.A. in history with highest honors and honors in economics from the University of North Carolina.