In Memoriam: Wilhelmina Matilda Reuben-Cooke, 1946-2019

Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, professor emerita of law at Syracuse University in New York and one of the first African American students to enroll at Duke University in North Carolina, died late last month in Alexandria, Virginia. She was 72 years old.

Professor Reuben-Cooke was a native of Georgetown, South Carolina. After graduating from a Christian boarding school, in 1963 Reuben-Cooke was one of the first five African American students admitted to Duke University. She earned her bachelor’s degree there in 1967 and went on to earn a law degree at the University of Michigan.

Reuben-Cooke then joined the Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering law firm in Washington, D.C., working in communications, antitrust, tax, securities, criminal and general corporate law. Her academic career began in 1986 when she joined the law school faculty at Syracuse University. She also served as associate dean for academic affairs. Reuben-Cooke left the Syracuse University College of Law in 2003 to become provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of the District of Columbia, a position she held until 2007. After stepping down she remained on the faculty of the university’s law school.

Professor Reuben-Cooke also served two terms on the board of trustees of Duke University.

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