LA MIRADA, CALIF. --- Dr. Clyde Cook, who retired in June 2007 after serving for 25 years as president of Biola University, died on Friday, April 11, at his home in Fullerton, Calif. He was 72.
Cook served as president of Biola University for 25 years, three times longer than the average tenure of a university president. After serving several years on various boards of directors, including the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities and the American Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Cook was referred to as the “Dean of Christian College Presidents” by his colleagues.
Biola faculty, staff and students will host a candlelight memorial on Monday, April 13, at 8 p.m. on Biola University’s Metzger Lawn to honor Cook’s exemplary life. Over 1,000 students and employees are expected to attend.
A memorial in Cook’s honor will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 19, at the Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, Calif., where Cook and his wife were members for the past 25 years. A University chapel service honoring Cook will be held at Biola at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 21.
Students have also dedicated this year’s 79th Annual Missions Conference – which takes place from April 16 to 18 – as the Clyde Cook Memorial Missions Conference, in recognition of Cook’s global heart and vision to reach the world with hope.
Dubbed with the nickname “Mr. Biola,” Cook was greatly loved and respected by over 50,000 students, alumni, staff and families around the world.
“I do not know in my lifetime if I’ve met anyone more Christlike than Clyde Cook,” said Charles R. Swindoll, an internationally known author and speaker, and personal friend. “He not only walked well, he finished well. He never lost his heart for those who were less fortunate and for those without Christ. Without a doubt he was the most encouraging friend I have ever had.”
Cook, a fourth generation missionary, never aspired to be a university president. Born in 1935, he grew up in Hong Kong. He and his family faced separation and imprisonment in three different concentration camps during World War II. His family successfully reunited in South Africa in 1942 and five years later, they relocated to Laguna Beach, Calif.
A highly esteemed basketball player, Cook was named California Interscholastic Federation Player of the year in 1953, and offered athletic scholarships to 13 major universities. He chose to attend Biola University – then called Biola College – where he starred on the basketball team. His athletic jersey was retired in February 2007.
Cook graduated from Biola with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957. During his time as an undergraduate at Biola, Cook met and married his wife of 50 years, Anna Belle Lund. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity (’60) and Master of Theology (’62) from Biola’s Talbot Theological Seminary, as well as a Doctor of Missiology at Fuller Theological Seminary (’74).
He and his wife went on to become missionaries with Overseas Crusades in the Philippines along with their two children, Laura and Craig. (He later served as president of the organization from 1979 to 1982.)
In 1967, Cook returned to Biola as a missions professor, helping develop Biola’s nationally acclaimed program in cross-cultural education. He served on Biola’s Board of Trustees from 1980 until 1982, when he was unanimously selected as Biola’s seventh president. He assumed office on June 1, 1982, his 47th birthday.
Under Cook's leadership, two schools of the university were founded: the School of Intercultural Studies and the Crowell School of Business. During Cook’s tenure, enrollment doubled to nearly 6,000 and 12 new buildings were constructed on campus.
Cook retired from Biola in June 2007, on the cusp of the university’s 100th anniversary, allowing a new president to lead Biola into its next century.
In the Winter 2006 issue of Biola Magazine, which featured a cover story titled “Well Done” on Cook’s retirement, he said, “It’s so easy for me to think I’m Mr. Biola. But there were presidents before me and presidents will come after me. This is God’s work and it’s His mission, and He’s going to see it through.”
“Clyde Cook embodied Biola, its heritage, its values, its high calling as a Christian university,” said Cook’s successor, President Barry H. Corey, in a chapel address honoring Cook on April 14. “When people across the country and around the world saw Clyde Cook, they saw Biola.“
Corey added: “Clyde always told me, the best days are yet to come. Those best days for Clyde are now, and they will never end.”