Duke Honors Its First Black Faculty Member

DrCookDuke University in Durham, North Carolina, recently held a ceremony to celebrate the naming of its new social policy center to honor Samuel DuBois Cook. In 1966, Dr. Cook became the first African American faculty member at Duke. The Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity will focus on the study of and finding potential remedies for global inequality.

A native of Griffin, Georgia, Dr. Cook attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was a classmate of Martin Luther King Jr. At Morehouse he was student body president and founded a campus chapter of the NAACP. Dr. Cook earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Morehouse College in 1948. He went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at Ohio State University.

Before joining the faculty at Duke in 1966, Dr. Cook taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta University. Nine years after joining the faculty at Duke, Dr. Cook was named president of Dillard University in New Orleans. He served in that role for 22 years.

Dr. Cook, now 87 years old, attended the ceremony opening the center named in his honor along with many friends and family members. Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead said to Dr. Cook in his remarks, “Some might say we are honoring you by naming the center after you, but everyone knows the truth. We are honoring ourselves and this center by appropriating your name.”

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  1. Fine honor for a great man, my first President at Dillard University. With integrity and high standards, Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook fostered excellence in faculty, staff, and students. Thank you Sir! Congratulations on this honor.

  2. The new Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity will help fulfill the biblical legacy of social justice that is so important to Dr Samuel Dubois Cook. He is both a scholar and a gentleman and was the most able academic administrator that I have ever worked with in The Academy.

    I had the honor to have served as a Vice President under his visionary leadership for six years, which were some of the best years of my career in higher education.

  3. Dr. Cook believed in me despite my individual differences and challenges at the time. He saw the good in each person. I am honored to have known you and your lovely wife. Thanks for a lifetime investment in education.

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