former president of Biola University in Los Angeles
five years in South Africa, the Cooks came to the United States and
settled in Laguna Beach, California, where Clyde was named California
Interscholastic Federation basketball player of the year in 1953. He
was offered athletic scholarships to thirteen different major
The Biola website says Clyde received his Bachelor of Arts
degree from Biola University (1957) and his Master of Divinity (1960)
and Master of Theology (1962) from Talbot Theological Seminary. He
earned his Doctor of Missiology (1974) at Fuller Theological Seminary.
After graduating from Biola, Clyde served as the school's
Athletic Director from 1957 to 1960. From 1963-1967 he and his wife,
Anna Belle, were missionaries with O.C. Ministries (then known as
Overseas Crusades) in Cebu City in the Philippines. During this time
Clyde participated in pastors' conferences, city-wide crusades, lay
institute training, youth conferences and Bible school teaching. He
traveled extensively, visiting more than 72 countries in athletic and
drama evangelism and to represent Biola University. In 1971, he spent
six months in the Philippines helping to set up theological extension
Returning to Biola in 1967 as an Assistant Professor of
Missions, Clyde was then appointed Director of Intercultural Studies
and Missions and helped to develop Biola's nationally acclaimed program
in cross-cultural education. Called to the presidency of O.C.
Ministries in 1978, he ably guided the mission organization to an
increased level of financial stability and multiplied foreign field
Clyde served on the Biola Board of Trustees from 1980 to
when he was invited by a unanimous vote of the Board to assume the
seventh presidency of Biola University on June 1, 1982 and became
president emeritus on July 1, 2007.
The Biola website says Dr. Cook served for seven years on
Board of Directors of the Council for Christian Colleges and
Universities, and one year as its chair. He also served for six years
on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Independent
Colleges and Universities, and served as the president of that
organization for two years. He served on the Western Association of
Schools and Colleges accreditation task force as well as serving as a
member of the steering committee for the Fellowship of Evangelical
Seminary Presidents. He served for six years on the executive committee
of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of
article entitled: "Well Done -- With integrity and conviction,
President Clyde Cook guided Biola to national prominence" by Holly
Pivec, states that after 25 years as Biola's president, Clyde Cook
retired in June, 2007 a year before the school's 100th anniversary.
Pivec writes that ranked as a "National University" by U.S.
News & World Report - the only evangelical school that the magazine
groups with the "major leagues" of higher education - Biola is one of
the fastest-growing universities in the nation. It boasts new campus
buildings, top Christian scholars among its faculty, and one of the
largest operating budgets in the Council for Christian Colleges &
Cook became president in 1982, a year after Biola
from a college to a university. At that time, Biola was facing serious
challenges. It had just entered a decade of declining enrollment and
dwindling finances. Department funds were being slashed, and staff and
faculty salaries were frozen. Discouragement set in across campus.
Most universities saw sharp declines in enrollment in the
1980s, after the number of Baby Boomers peaked. Biola's enrollment
dropped from 3,181 in 1980 to 2,566 in 1989 - 615 students. On top of
that, the year before Cook took over, the University received about 20
percent less donations than it had planned for; yet, it adopted a 17
percent higher budget, creating about a 37 percent shortfall. Cook had
to quickly cut $1.3 million.
In Pivec's article, Dr. Ed Thurber, who has served as a math
professor at Biola since 1971., was quoted as saying: "Dr. Cook is
really a man of the Lord. That came out early in his presidency. There
was no doubt about how he loved the Lord and how that was central to
Cook faced an unforeseen obstacle two years into his
presidency. At age 49, he had a major heart attack, a type so serious
that it's called "the widowmaker" - 100 percent blockage of his heart's
left main artery. Cook remained in critical condition for five days and
was hospitalized for 24. Many people feared that his term as president
would be cut short.
says Pivec, Cook recovered and became Biola's longest-serving president
and one of the most beloved. He also became one of the longest-serving
university presidents in the nation in a career where the average
tenure is seven years at a private school and five years at a public
one, according to the American Council on Education.
Pivec says perseverance was nothing new to Cook, who faced
adversity at an early age.
A Missionary At Heart
Cook, a fourth generation missionary, never aspired to be a
university president, but, instead, always saw himself as a missionary.
Born in 1935, Cook grew up in Hong Kong. When the Japanese invaded in
1941, he, his parents and five siblings were imprisoned for six months
in three separate concentration camps. They nearly starved to death -
as many of their fellow prisoners did - on a diet of rice and soup made
with only a few Chinese greens.
Pivec says they later settled in Laguna Beach, California,
where Cook excelled on his high school basketball team. As the 1953
California Interscholastic Federation's "Basketball Player of the
Year," Cook received lucrative scholarship offers from 13 colleges and
universities. He planned to play for the University of Southern
California, but, two weeks before classes started, he began to rethink
"I wanted to invest my life in something that would last for
eternity," Cook said.
Pivec says Cook enrolled at Biola Bible College to prepare
professional Christian ministry. There, he met his wife, Anna Belle
Lund ('55), and earned three degrees: a bachelor's degree in Bible, a
master of divinity and a master of theology. After a five-year stint as
Biola's athletic director and coach of the men's sports teams, he, Anna
Belle and their two young children, Laura and Craig, left as
missionaries to the Philippines. But they returned four years later for
Cook to head Biola's missions department, which he did for 12 years. In
1979, Cook was appointed the president of Overseas Crusades, a missions
agency (now called O.C. International), succeeding evangelist Luis
says that Biola's Board of Trustees watched as Cook grew Overseas
Crusades and increased its financial stability. So, when then-president
Dick Chase left in 1982 to become the president of Wheaton College, the
Board invited Cook to be Biola's seventh president.
According to Pivec, after praying about the offer, Cook felt
could do more to influence world missions as the president of a
Christian university than he could as the president of a missions
agency. So, with the blessing of Overseas Crusades' board, he accepted
When Cook stepped into his new office, he knew, first off,
he needed to change some minds. Now a university, Biola needed to start
seeing itself as one, says Pivec.
Changing the Mindset
Many people on campus still thought of Biola more like a
college - or even a church - than an academic institution, and it was
run accordingly. An incident early in Cook's presidency illustrates
One of Cook's first actions was to get women on the Board of
Trustees. Although more than half of the students were women, some
Board members felt that the Bible prohibited female leadership of a
Christian institution. Cook felt otherwise. When he broached the issue,
however, there was stiff opposition.
Still, the issue kept bugging him. So, a year later, he
brought it up again.
wrote a paper arguing that the Bible addressed female leadership in a
church, not an academic institution like Biola. His argument took hold.
"For the Board, it wasn't a bias against women; some members
felt it was compromising with the Bible," Cook said.
The dawning realization that Biola was a university helped
change their minds. A year later, they voted to bring Carol (Carlson)
Lindskog onto the Board.
"Carol has done such a good job," Cook said, adding that,
since then, three more women have joined her.
Cook also began to set up a university structure for Biola,
under the direction of then-provost and senior vice president, Dr.
Robert Fischer. The entire advancement division - including student
recruitment, marketing and fundraising - was created under Cook's
Cook, Biola also added graduate programs that strengthened its academic
profile, including three new schools: the School of Intercultural
Studies, the School of Professional Studies and the Crowell School of
In Pivec's article, Cook's close friend, Chuck Swindoll, the
founder of Insight for Living radio ministry and the chancellor of
Dallas Theological Seminary, said: "Dr. Cook treats everyone the same.
It doesn't matter if they're a tenured faculty member or a first-year
Even the timing of Cook's retirement has been viewed as an
example of his humility, since it gave the new president the limelight
during Biola's centennial celebration.
Under Cook, and at the urging of Wes Willmer, the vice
president of university advancement, the University Planning Group was
also launched, which has helped define Biola's niche in higher
education as Protestant, evangelical, non-denominational and
theologically conservative. As Biola has honed in on these distinctives
- especially in communicating its conservative evangelical stances -
enrollment and financial support have gone up, according to Willmer.
The University Planning Group also has helped formulate Biola's vision
to become "a global center for Christian thought and spiritual
Faith and Academics
Many secular universities have treated faith as antagonistic
academics, or at least as periphery to it. But, for Cook, Christianity
has always been the core of an education.
In that light, says Pivec, Cook kept the requirement that
undergraduate students take 30 semester-units in Bible, making Biola
one of only two schools to require this many units in the 105-member
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
Cook also encouraged faculty to teach every discipline from
biblical worldview by introducing "faculty integration seminars," where
faculty are taught how to combine their faith with their disciplines. A
"seventh-semester sabbatical" was also created, which allows professors
to apply for a research leave every seven semesters - if they are doing
research that combines their faith with their fields -- instead of
waiting seven years for a sabbatical.
also hired faculty who would strengthen Biola academically, but who
were also ministry minded, according to Dollar. "Schools tend to go in
one direction or the other, but Dr. Cook moved the school in both of
those directions at the same time," Dollar said.
Cook, himself, believed one of his biggest achievements was
"maintaining Biola's spiritual dynamic and not compromising it for the
sake of secular academic respectability."
The key for keeping Biola on track, doctrinally, was its
faculty, according to Cook.
Another one of Cook's doctrinal legacies is his commitment
inerrancy - the teaching that the Bible is without error in its
original manuscripts. Though some Christians urged Cook to drop this
doctrine - considering it unimportant - many Biolans have applauded
Cook for his staunch stance.
As a missionary, Cook also saw everything in light of the
Commission. To keep Biola's historical thrust on missions, he turned
the small missions department into an entire school - the School of
Intercultural Studies - and he fought to keep the annual missions
conference, even though it takes away three days from classes.
Cook also broadened Biola's understanding of missions,
all students to see themselves as missionaries - not just those headed
for cross-cultural ministry. During graduation ceremonies, he often
reminded them that they were entering their mission fields - in the
boardrooms, public schools and film studios.
This missionary zeal, applied to all careers, has resulted
in a new era of impact for Biola, says Pivec.
Cook's mainstreaming of missions led Biola to new ways of
influencing the culture, Pivec says. The film program, for example -
known as one of the nation's top Christian film programs - has produced
graduates like Scott Derrickson ('89, '90), the co-writer and director
of the successful, spiritually themed Exorcism of Emily Rose (Sony
The Torrey Honors Institute, an honors program for
undergraduate students, was started in 1996.
The Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics
is viewed widely as the leading one of its kind, and it boasts more
than 100 graduates in top Ph.D. programs for philosophy, including the
University of Notre Dame.
Pivec credits the growing reputations of programs like as causong major
media outlets to seek Biola for an evangelical perspective, including,
in recent years, The New York Times Magazine, ABC News' Nightline and
These programs have also contributed to several years of
record enrollments at Biola, she says.
Since Cook's arrival, Biola's enrollment nearly doubled to
- a growth that has outpaced public, private and many other Christian
colleges and universities.
The campus also has been built up, including the purchase of
20 acres that adjoin the campus in 1988 and the additions of a
state-of-the-art athletic field, a tennis complex, two new residence
halls and a new library. Construction is underway on a
32,000-square-foot classroom building that will house Crowell School of
Off campus, Biola has added six extension sites throughout
Southern California and three overseas: in Chiang Mai, Thailand;
Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Kiev, Ukraine. Another one is planned for
Manhattan, New York.
The profile of incoming students has also improved, with the
average GPA going up from 3.15 to 3.53 and the average SAT going up
from 1025 to 1125.
The endowment, virtually non-existent in 1982, is now over
$43.5 million. And the budget has grown nearly ten times, from about
$13 million to over $125 million. Net assets have grown from $33
million to $115 million.
After his retirement, Cook took the office of president
emeritus to serve Biola however the new president desired, says Pivec.
Cook believed the biggest challenge for his successor would be
fundraising for the nearly $200 million in new buildings, including a
larger building for Talbot School of Theology; expansions of Sutherland
Hall, Crowell Hall, Bardwell Hall and the Student Union Building; a
four-story classroom building; a five-level parking garage and a
his retirement, Cook also planned spend time with Anna Belle, their
children and six grandchildren, including their oldest grandchild,
Candace, who was then a freshman at Biola.
Pivec says some of Cook's best memories are commencement
ceremonies, seeing eager graduates going out to fulfill Biola's mission
of impacting the world for Christ.
"The world needs a place like Biola that does not
that's rigorous in its academic programs - a place where parents can
send their children, not to have their values undermined, but built
up," Cook said.
At his retirement, many Biolans said they couldn't imagine
Biola without Cook. But Cook always reminded himself that he's the
temporary office holder and wanted to hold his work at Biola lightly,
"It's so easy for me to think I'm Mr. Biola," Cook said at
time. "But there were presidents before me and presidents will come
after me," he said. "This is God's work and it's His mission, and He's
going to see it through."
Funeral arrangements are still pending.
** Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of ANS,
is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a
reporter with a London newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to
UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. Michael's involvement
with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- Michael
Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of ACT International at:
Artists in Christian Testimony (ACT) International