After more than 10 years of enrollment challenges, the Cook School of Intercultural Studies will close after the 2023-2024 academic year and the academic programs under the school will be relocated to another school or entity.
“This is not about closing a school to weaken our commitment to missions. It is about new wineskins to refresh, reimagine, renew and reinvigorate the ‘Jesus Saves’ marrow in our bones,” said Biola University President, Dr. Barry H. Corey. “What Biola is doing aligns with so much of what is happening through the new ways of preparing the rising generation to advance the Great Commandment and Great Commission in global and cross-cultural contexts. We are more committed than ever to be part of God’s great gospel mission so that the lost can be saved and the saved can be discipled and the discipled can be trained into leadership to bring Jesus to the nations. We are excited about ways in which we can experience growth unlike we've ever seen in our missions and intercultural programs.”
For 40 years, the Cook School of Intercultural Studies has been a catalyst for equipping and mobilizing hundreds of students for service around the world. It has been a part of Biola’s academic offerings since 1983 when the school was inaugurated after Dr. Marvin K. Mayers and Dr. Clyde Cook, former president of Biola, helped lay the foundation for establishing the school.
Biola students, faculty, alumni, partner mission organizations and churches have been recipients of the work and fruit of the Cook School. The legacy of the school extends beyond Biola’s campus to every corner of the world with alumni serving in many occupations including global missions, local churches, NGOs, relief agencies, and community development organizations.
For more than 10 years the school has faced enrollment challenges that have only continued to decline over time. This spring, the school had 36 undergraduate majors and 144 graduate students. At its peak, in 2011, the school enrolled over 220 undergraduate majors and 214 graduate students.
Biola’s administration is required to provide the Board of Trustees a report in January 2024 outlining plans to allocate the school’s programs in such ways that will enrich the university’s effectiveness in educating students for more effective global and intercultural witness for Christ and to preserve and honor the legacy and name of Clyde and Anna Belle Cook.
“Biola remains committed to equipping and mobilizing students for the Great Commission and communicating the gospel in cross-cultural settings,” said Provost and Senior Vice President, Dr. Matthew J. Hall. “The closure is a move toward maximizing the high-impact and high-potential of the programs within Cook by repositioning them for enrollment growth and financial sustainability. This structural decision is intended to create urgency and have a shared commitment to evaluating all of the programs and personnel to ensure that we are providing programs that are financially sustainable and effective in their mission.”
Classes will resume as scheduled for returning and incoming students during the ’23-24 year — the last year of the school’s existence. Decisions about the relocation of the academic programs will be announced no later than Spring 2024. Future decisions will entail the establishment of a center or named entity to perpetuate the legacy and name of Clyde and Anna Belle Cook.
Given the crucial needs of the global church, Biola’s administration believes this is an opportunity to do something in this moment that has the potential to expand Biola's impact for the Great Commission, to train and form men and women for missional impact for Christ all over the globe.
"The Cook family is so appreciative of Biola's leadership in thinking strategically about positioning these programs in a way which will serve the greater Biola community and ultimately the church and God's kingdom around the world! In this, it is a true honoring of Clyde and Anna Belle Cook's legacy,” said Clyde and Anna Belle’s son and alumnus, Dr. Craig Cook (B.A. ’84, M.Div. ’86), who serves as principal of the Woodstock School in India.