In Memoriam: Samuel DuBois Cook, 1928-2017

Samuel DuBois Cook, the first African American faculty member at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and the long-time president of Dillard University in New Orleans, died on May 30. He was 88 years old.

Dr. Cook was a native of Griffin, Georgia. He entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15 and earned a bachelor’s degree in history. He held a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from Ohio State University.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Dr. Cook taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta University, where he chaired the political science department. In 1966, Dr. Cook was named to the faculty at Duke University. He was the first Black scholar to hold a tenure-track faculty post at a predominantly White university in the South.

In 1974, Dr. Cook was named president of Dillard University. He served in that role for nearly 23 years until his retirement in 1997.

Dr. Cook was the author of Benjamin E. Mays: His Life, Contributions, and Legacy (Providence House Publishers, 2009). He was the first African American president of the Southern Political Science Association and also served as president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


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  1. Graham P. Matthews says:

    Dr. Cook hired me in 1991 as a Vice President; and for six years I worked with him on a daily basis, and those were the best six years of my career. He was my mentor, my professional role model, and my friend.

    Outside of work, he liked to have fun with the faculty and staff of Dillard University. I still can remember the end of the year picnics on the lawn and the softball games.

    The Academy has lost an intellectual and moral giant.

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