Campus News

Dillard University Holds Memorial Service for Beloved President Samuel DuBois Cook

Communications and Marketing

Dr. CookNEW ORLEANS, June 8 – Dillard University will honor the life of its fourth president, Samuel DuBois Cook, at a memorial service at 10 a.m. June 16, at the Lawless Memorial Chapel.

Cook died on May 29 in Atlanta at the age of 88. He remained a President Emeritus of Dillard until his passing.

Cook was widely respected as an educator, political scientist, author, teacher and scholar. A classmate of Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Cook was Dillard’s second-longest serving president, from 1974 to 1997. Under his leadership during more than 22 years, enrollment doubled, the nursing and business programs grew, and more faculty with doctoral degrees joined the institution’s ranks. He opened the Samuel DuBois Cook Fine Arts and Communication Center, a multimillion-dollar facility that includes a theater, radio station and auditorium, and which remains the art hub of Dillard today.

Under Cook’s stewardship, the university grew its endowment from $5 million to $30 million and the University Scholars program consistently recruited top students from around the country, offering full scholarships and chances to study at other distinguished institutions. Dillard was the only historically black college at the time to have a Japanese Studies program.

By 1989, Cook realized a dream that had been in the making since he was a graduate student working with a Jewish mentor at Ohio State University:  He founded the Dillard University National Center for Black-Jewish Relations.  At the time, Cook told The New York Times he wanted the Center to heal the rift between blacks and Jews since they worked together during the Civil Rights movement. In recognition of his efforts, then-President Bill Clinton named Cook to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Cook graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and went on to pursue his master’s and Ph.D. degrees at Ohio State. He taught at Southern University, Atlanta University, the University of Illinois, UCLA and Duke University, where in 1966, he became the first African-American to hold a regular or tenured faculty appointment.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society,  Cook was a Korean War veteran and a former ordained deacon at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. He held honorary degrees from Morehouse College, Ohio State University, Dillard University, Illinois College, Duke University, the University of New Orleans and Chicago Theological Seminary 

Cook is survived by Sylvia F. Cook, his wife for more than 50 years; Samuel DuBois Cook Jr., and Karen J. Cook, his children, and grandchildren Alexandra Renee Cook and Samuel DuBois Cook III. He and his family are longtime members of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.


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