Former President inducted into Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame

Dr. Cook was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame Tuesday, Oct. 12. Cook is the second RSC official to be inducted into the hall. (Photo by Miranda Liming)

By: Bryan Trude, Feature Editor

President Emeritus Dr. James Cook was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall Of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Cook, who was president of RSC from 2000 to 2006, was one of 11 people inducted into the Hall as part of the 2010 class, an honor Cook referred to as “a pinnacle moment” in his career.

“The feeling I had when I got the call that I was selected, I can’t convey the gratitude I had in my heart,” Cook said. “I thought my mom would be very excited to hear about [the induction].”

The Hall, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society, “recognizes outstanding men and women, living and deceased, who have excelled in higher education, and who have encouraged others to contribute to the economic development and quality of life in Oklahoma,” according to the Society’s Web site.

Cook is the second RSC official inducted to the hall, selected in his first year of eligibility. Cook was nominated by his successor, current RSC President Dr. Terry Britton. Former RSC President Dr. Larry Nutter was inducted in 2003.

“President Cook provided sound leadership during difficult budget years, and put the college on sound financial footing,” Britton said. “I am proud of him and the college.”

In addition, Cook is also the first person from Seminole State College, where he served as President from 1987 to 1996, to be inducted.

“Dr. Cook was an exceptional educational leader in the higher education system – at Seminole, Rose State and with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for the better part of three decades,” Seminole State College President Dr. Jim Utterback said. “He was not only a friend and colleague, but a mentor when I became a college president.  He made a positive difference at this college and in the Seminole community.”

At RSC, Cook is credited for the campaigning to fund the construction of the Professional Training Center, as well as the construction of the University Center, the Communications Center and the first stages of the Health Sciences building.

Cook, however, feels his greatest contribution to the students was the expansion of the online class program “from just computer assisted classes to full online courses.”

Still active in the RSC community as the instructor of the President’s Leadership Course, Cook knows how he would like to see RSC grow as a college and a community in the future.

“I want to see the number of upper division courses offered at RSC by other schools grow,” Cook said, referring to the courses offered by UCO at the University Center.

“We are America’s college. We give everyone an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background.”

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