Dr. Gary Cook currently serves as Chancellor of Dallas Baptist University. He was elected as President in April 1988 and served for twenty-eight years as president until June 2016. The university grew from 1,859 students in the fall of 1987 to 5,319 in the fall of 2015. The University's net assets grew from $19.9 million to $171.5 million, and the University has finished each fiscal year in the black for 27 years. The campus expanded from 200 acres to 292 acres. Average SAT scores for incoming DBU freshmen were raised from 887 in 1992 to 1118 in 2015. In addition, by 2015 80% of full-time faculty had doctorates or terminal degrees, compared to 52% in 1988.
The number of master’s degree programs increased from three in 1988 to 28, while graduate enrollment has increased from 187 in the fall of 1987 to 2,004 in the fall of 2015. A new Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program began in the summer of 2005, and a new Ed.D. in Educational Leadership began in the fall of 2005. In the spring of 2004, the DBU board of trustees voted to name a new academic division of the University the Gary Cook Graduate School of Leadership.
Dr. Cook formerly served on the administrative staff of Baylor University in Waco for ten years. During that time, he taught at least one undergraduate or graduate class each semester. His responsibilities at Baylor included serving as Administrative Coordinator of the Gerontology Program, Assistant Chaplain, Director of Denominational and Community Relations, and Special Assistant to the President for Denominational Relations. Before serving at Baylor, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church of McGregor, Texas. He also has served ten interim pastorates.
Dr. Cook has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University, a Master of Arts in Aging Studies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Cook serves as Permanent President for the Class of 1972 at Baylor University. He also served as Graduating Class President for the Class of 1975 at Southern Seminary.
His wife, Sheila, received her Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College and her Master’s degree in education from the University of Louisville. She served as a teacher in the public school system for eighteen years. They have two sons, David Daniel (1983) and Mark Andrew (1986). David serves as assistant to the president for legal and external affairs/assistant professor of leadership, and Dean of Global Studies at Dallas Baptist University and is married to Nicole Dodson Cook, and they have three children, Molly, Caleb, and Gracie. Mark is married to Shannon Baldwin Cook and serves as an assistant professor of leadership and biblical studies at Dallas Baptist University.
Dr. Cook has served as a member of the International Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity, on the Executive Committee of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, as chair of the Finance Committee of the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities, on the board of directors of the Dallas YMCA, as a member of the board of trustees and executive committee of Baylor College of Dentistry, as a member of the Baylor Oral Health Foundation, as chairman of the Education Division of the Dallas United Way Campaign, and as a member of the Board of Governors for the Park City Club. He also served as chairman of the Board of Baylor University Medical Center for three years.
He has also served as a member of the Waco City Council and Mayor Pro Tem of Waco. He formerly served as founding president of the Waco Conference of Christians and Jews, founding president of the Samaritan Counseling Center, and founding president of the Waco Christian Society for the Arts. He also served as president of the Arthritis Foundation of Central Texas, the Waco Ministerial Alliance, and the Greater Waco Beautification Association. He is a Senior Active Member of Rotary International and a Paul Harris Fellow. He was appointed by George Gallup to serve as a Fellow of the Gallup International Institute.
Dr. Cook was appointed by Governor William Clements to serve a four-year term on the nine member Texas Board on Aging. Congressman Marvin Leath asked Dr. Cook to serve as his delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1981. Dr. Cook was appointed by Governor George Bush to serve as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1995. In 2004, Dr. Cook was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve as a founding member of the OneStar Foundation. Dr. Cook formerly held office as chairman of the Waco Council of Senior Citizens and the Waco Baptist Association Senior Adult Council and served as the coordinator of his church’s Meals on Wheels program for five years.
Awards and Honors
Dr. Cook was a recipient of the Outstanding Young Wacoan award presented by the Waco Jaycees in 1983. He received the Waco Humanitarian Award presented by the Waco Conference of Christians and Jews in 1985. He also received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award given by the Baylor Alumni Association in 1987. In 2000, he was recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2003, he was recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by Baylor University. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Integrity in Christian Education Award presented by Marketplace Ministries. In 2011, Dr. Cook was named an Honorary Alumnus of the Baptist University of Americas. In 2019, he received the Hispanic Education Impact Award by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He received the first Servant Leader of the Year Award by the Hispanic Baptist Convention. This award is now presented each year at the Hispanic Baptist Convention as the Gary Cook Servant Leader Award. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and Who’s Who in American Education.
Dr. Cook and his wife, Sheila, are active members of Park Cities Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon. He has been involved with the Baptist World Alliance since he was a college student. He was a charter member of the BWA General Secretary's Circle and served as chair of the Promotion and Development Committee. He also has served as chair of the Consortium for Global Education. In addition, Dr. Cook served as a member of the steering committee of the Billy Graham Metroplex Mission. He formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He currently serves as Acting Chair of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities Board of Directors.