DBU Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Chancellor Dr. Gary Cook

Dr. and Mrs. Gary Cook (center) along with their sons (far left) Mark Cook and his wife Shannon and (far right) Dr. David Cook and his wife, Nicole.
Dr. and Mrs. Gary Cook (center) along with their sons (far left) Mark Cook and his wife Shannon and (far right) Dr. David Cook and his wife, Nicole.

Dallas, TX – On Friday, April 6, Dallas Baptist University celebrated the 30 years of service at DBU by Dr. Gary Cook. For the past three decades, Dr. Cook has transformed DBU from a school whose doors were about to close to a university with worldwide impact.

After Dr. Cook was elected DBU’s fifth President on April 6, 1988, he moved to University Hill with his wife, Sheila, and two sons, David and Mark. For the next three decades, he successfully led the University to new heights of growth and expansion, while also strengthening the Christian commitment of the school. In February of 2015, he announced plans to step aside as President and take on the role of Chancellor in order to pursue a campaign to raise $100 million in scholarship funds for DBU students. He maintained a dual role as President and Chancellor until May 2016, when the trustees elected Dr. Adam C. Wright to become the sixth President.

“The Lord used Gary Cook to lead DBU to what it has become today,” stated Dr. Adam Wright, DBU President. “His commitment to prayer and extraordinary leadership skills propelled the University to overcome many obstacles and equipped DBU for the bright days that lie ahead.”

One of the first initiatives Dr. Cook began was what he considered to be the most vital part of the DBU success story, the establishment of a prayer ministry at DBU, now named the Orville and Esther Beth Rogers Prayer Ministry. Enlisting the support of more than 1,000 prayer warriors, Dr. Cook called upon the extended DBU Family to turn the whole of the life of the University over to the Lord in prayer. In addition, he worked to establish the concept of servant leadership at the heart of the educational experience at DBU.

Throughout Dr. Cook’s tenure, the University grew from 1,859 to more than 5,000 students. The University’s budget finished in the black for 28 consecutive years under his leadership, and the University assets grew from $27.7 million to over $171 million. He also established several new scholarship initiatives, including the Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award Dinner, the Tom Landry Leadership Award Dinner, and the DBU Church Matching Gift Program, which has partnered with churches to provide more than $16 million in scholarships for students.

Twenty-seven master's degree programs were added during Dr. Cook’s time as President. In the spring of 2004, the DBU Board of Trustees voted to name a new academic division of the University the Gary Cook School of Leadership. The following year, DBU began its first doctoral degree programs with the Ph.D. in Leadership Studies and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Over the course of his time as President, he handed diplomas to some 27,000 students who left DBU ready to impact the world for the glory of God.

“Dr. Cook’s commitment to develop a Christ-centered University has resulted in a rich and wonderful ethos in mentoring, teaching, and service towards the students God has led to Dallas Baptist University,” said Dr. Gail Linam, former DBU Provost and current Academic Dean. “Throughout it all, his wife, Sheila, has provided an incredible example of a gifted and giving Christian woman, exhibiting a dedication to her family, to the University, and the great value of Christian higher education. DBU has so much gratitude for the Cook Family.”

Dr. Cook is an active member and deacon at Park Cities Baptist Church, and he is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Baylor University Medical Center.

Written by Dr. Blake Killingsworth

Dr. Blake Killingsworth is the Vice President for Communications at Dallas Baptist University.