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Peter Cooney. Imaged provided by Dr. Dennis Anderson

Asper community remembers Peter Cooney, beloved instructor of accounting

Cooney was a model of teaching excellence and the difference caring makes

June 14, 2024 — 

The Asper School of Business community mourns the loss of former instructor of accounting and alumnus, Peter Cooney [BComm/70, MBA/79]. Cooney passed away on January 18, 2024, with community members quickly reaching out to share their memories of his time as a student in the 1970s and his instruction in the department of accounting and finance from 1978 to 1999.

With teaching service at UM, the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University and Carleton University, as well as contract teaching at StandardAero, Cooney is remembered as a caring and dedicated educator who went above and beyond for students, always infusing a sense of fun and light humour into class. His loving wife Joan Rogers [MBA/82] shares how this combination made a lasting impression on students.

“I think that Peter’s legacy is the importance of hard work, being true to oneself and a gentle sense of humour,” she says.

University of Manitoba Chancellor Anne Mahon [BScHEc/87] recalls Cooney’s attention, kindness and gentle approach in her first term as a student.

“Peter was my Financial Accounting instructor in my first semester of university at UM in the fall of 1983. It was the only course I took with Peter, but I have never ever forgotten his kindness. I badly failed my first midterm, and his care and concern taught me so much. He quickly realized I was nervous writing exams and was so supportive—even coming over to tell me jokes when I was writing my next two exams. I passed the course but did not became an accountant!” she says.



In 1985 Cooney received the Olive Beatrice Stanton Award for Excellence in Teaching, a recognition of his contributions to advancing teaching and learning at UM and his status as an outstanding UM educator.

Charles Henaire [BComm(Hons)/88], Executive Vice President, Deputy CFO and Chief Accounting and Control Officer of Great-West Lifeco, shared how Cooney’s instruction impacted his career success.

“Peter was one of my favourite accounting instructors at the University of Manitoba and was a great mentor. His knowledge and kindness had an amazing influence on me and my journey in becoming a Chartered Accountant (CPA). Thank you, Peter.”

Henaire’s and Chancellor Mahon’s tributes demonstrate Cooney’s ability to connect with students and recognize their potential, regardless of where their career journeys took them.

The graduating commerce class of 1988 clearly felt this, and they selected Cooney as the 1987-88 recipient of the Commerce Students’ Association Golden Shovel Award. Each year, graduating students nominate professors and instructors for the award and vote for the educator that has made the most significant impact upon them in their final year at the Asper School of Business.

Former marketing professor, MBA program director and associate dean of the Asper School of Business, Dr. Dennis Anderson shares what made Cooney stand out whether he was at the front of the classroom or seated among classmates.

“As a student, Peter possessed a rare combination of high intelligence, depth and breadth of perspective, command of concepts and theories, and grasp of the practical applications—all this mixed with his quick mind and ever-present, unique sense of humour. Nothing phased him; he rose to every opportunity and challenge.”

“As an instructor, Peter valued every student. His interest was their learning, their career development, and them as human beings. They knew it. They felt it. In short, he demonstrated that he cared about them,” says Anderson.

Dr. Anderson is clear—Cooney was an effective teacher thanks to his breadth and depth of knowledge and ability to engage with both practical and theoretical concepts, but he was an exceptional teacher because he cared, a sentiment that Chancellor Mahon captures beautifully.

Says Chancellor Mahon,

“Peter Cooney taught me the most valuable lesson of all: that absolutely nothing replaces the conscious choice of someone caring about you. Never underestimate its impact.”

Photos provided by Joan Rogers and Dr. Dennis Anderson.

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