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Amanda J. Billings
Executive Director of Marketing and Communications
Phone: (812) 330-6222
Fax: (812) 330-6205
email: abillings7@ivytech.edu

This Story is provided by The Herald Times

Changing Lives: Honoring Bill & Gayle Cook

Cooks know success starts with education

By Bob Zaltsberg
331-4364 | rzaltsberg@heraldt.com
June 17, 2010

The impact the Cooks have had on education in Monroe and surrounding counties can be felt at the university, community college, public school and private school levels. Their support has been broad and deep.

"We acknowledge the Cook family and Cook Inc. for a variety of contributions to our community,” said Sue Talbot, a member of the IU Board of Trustees for the last nine years. “However, another meaningful but often unheralded contribution is in the field of education.”

Here are some facts she listed that prove the point as it relates to IU:

• Five of IU’s eight campuses have received gifts from the Cooks for a variety of academic programs and scholarships, as well as department and facility development.

• At least 62 disciplines and departments have benefited from their gifts to IU.

• They have established or contributed to more than 30 scholarship funds for IU students across a broad spectrum of schools and disciplines.

• They have been instrumental in leading initiatives for diversity through their gifts to programs supporting students from under-represented populations

• IU’s School of Education students have benefitted from the Martha Lee and Bill Armstrong Fund for Teacher Education that supports a faculty member and brings outstanding K-12 teachers to IU to mentor students.

• They have provided support for athletics and the arts. (See the story on page 14.)

• They have given their time to IU: Bill is a former member of the Board of Trustees and was an honorary co-chairman of the Myles Brand Cancer Research Committee. Gayle has been instrumental in establishing the Women’s Colloquium for Women at Indiana University with former IU first lady Peg Brand. She has served for several years on the IU Foundation Board of Directors and has co-chaired the international committee which promotes student interchanges between countries; international student scholarships and faculty study and travel.

“We are deeply grateful to Bill and Gayle Cook for their remarkable generosity to Indiana University,” said IU President Michael McRobbie. “Their vision and support over the course of nearly a half century have enabled researchers at the IU School of Medicine to develop better, more effective products and also expanded opportunities at the Jacobs School of Music, the School of Education, the Wells Scholars Program and IU Athletics.”

McRobbie said the Cooks’ “generosity of spirit” is seen in their insistence that the name of every Cook employee be included on a series of plaques in the lobby of Cook Hall, the new basketball development center made possible by the Cooks’ gift of $15 million.

“With this spirit, they have joined the ranks of only a few families in the university’s history — families such as the Lillys and Krannerts — who have left an indelible mark on IU with their great vision and generosity,” McRobbie said.

Ivy Tech Community College

John Whikehart, chancellor of the Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington campus, is as effusive in his praise of the contributions of the Cooks. The campus he leads is next door to the Cook World Headquarters in Park 48 on the west side of Bloomington.

“The impacts of the Cooks’ commitment to a trained, educated and skilled workforce are far reaching in both direct and indirect impact, and in areas that go beyond the obvious connection to life sciences activity,” he said. “As they have directly impacted our Bloomington campus, I do not think it an exaggeration to state that we would not have one of the six biotechnology degree programs in our system if not for the presence of Cook Medical Group in Bloomington.”

Whikehart said the degree was designed with assistance and input from Cook Medical.
“The biotechnology program internship opportunities created for students, particularly at Cook Pharmica, have helped make the Bloomington biotechnology program the most successful in our system,” Whikehart said. He added that the commitment to the Ivy Tech students didn’t end with the internship opportunities. Of the college’s first 10 biotechnology graduates, eight were immediately employed at Cook Pharmica, he said.

Two centers, one campus

Whikehart said the commitment in 2005 to build the Indiana Center for the Life Sciences on the Ivy Tech Bloomington campus resulted from the prediction of new jobs emerging in the biomedical field, and the existence of that aforementioned biotechnology program.

“The influence of the Cook company on the design and delivery of the various career ladder opportunities associated with the center was invaluable,” he said.

So grateful was Whikehart of the Cooks’ contributions in the community on many levels that he recently announced plans for the Gayle and Bill Cook Center on Entrepreuneurship at Ivy Tech.

The center will focus on helping budding entrepreneurs start a business or develop or expand a new idea within a current business, among other things.

“Cook Group was the avant garde of a group of new local companies that need a much more sophisticated level of education and training for employees,” said Steve Howard, former president of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. “That need has driven improvements in our educational institutions, especially at Ivy Tech. The new Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Bloomington and other life science-focused programs are particularly notable examples of education changes the Cook pacesetting has stimulated.”

Secondary education and more

The Cooks’ interest in education also is in evidence at the high school level. Cook Medical has been a major financial donor in the development and implementation of New Tech High School, a public school in the Monroe County Community School Corp. that stresses problem solving across disciplines in a smaller school setting.
“The entire New Tech family is extremely grateful for the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Cook,” said Alan Veach, principal of New Tech. “The Cook family was instrumental in helping to establish Bloomington New Tech High School. They have provided strong financial support, which has allowed us to create a 21st Century High School with strong focus on academics and relationships in an environment with 1-to-1 computing.”

Tina Peterson, executive director of the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools, cites the “visionary leadership” of the Cooks in development of New Tech. She noted the Cook organization has helped the foundation raise almost $350,000 in start-up costs for the community’s newest high school.

“In only two years, the school can now boast that more students applied to the school than they have spots available,” she said. “New Tech is offering students a project-based approach to education that appeals to the learning styles of our youth and aligns with the needs of their future employers. None of this would have been possible with the support and leadership of the Cook family.”

Peterson said the broader universe of MCCSC students also has been assisted by the Cooks.
“The generosity of the Cook family has impacted generations of MCCSC students,” she said. “The breadth of opportunities provided for students through their financial support is quite diverse. What has not varied is their commitment to student engagement and to the development of 21st Century learners. This was first evidenced by their support for the creation of an MCCSC Science Coordinator and a science resource center to provide teachers with the tools and resources to implement inquiry based science curriculum in all grades.”

She said Cook Medical has been instrumental in rallying the community in support of new programs to engage learners and prepare them for life after high school.

“Through the creation of a matching gift challenge, new initiatives were implemented in local high schools to establish innovative approaches to educating the learners of today,” she said. “As an example, Bloomington High School South is now in the second year of a successful program, Advancement Via Individual Determination, that gives struggling students the tools for success in high school and the support to pursue an education beyond grade 12.”

Help for Harmony

While Bill and Gayle Cook were not leaders in the renovation of Harmony School in Bloomington, their son, Carl, was. He was co-chairman of the Campaign for Harmony fund drive in the middle of the 2000s, with a goal of upgrading the former Elm Heights Elementary School where he had been a student in the 1970s. Harmony, an independent private school that serves K-12, had been in the building since 1985. The $6.5 million fund drive started in 2004.

A last word

Whikehart, the Ivy Tech chancellor, noted that Bill Cook autographed a copy of his recent biography, “The Bill Cook Story” by Bob Hammel, for him.

“Mr. Cook inscribed a copy of his recent book ... for me as follows: “‘John — We’re neighbors who are trying to do what is best for society.’” “It was kind of him to say so, but I’m still a work in progress. Gayle and Bill Cook’s contributions to our community, region, state and larger society are many.”


The Indiana Center for the Life Sciences at Ivy Tech in Bloomington. Monty Howell | Herald-Times

“The impacts of the Cooks’ commitment to a trained, educated and skilled workforce are far-reaching in both direct and indirect impact, and in areas that go beyond the obvious connection to life sciences activity. As they have directly impacted our Bloomington campus, I do not think it an exaggeration to state that we would not have one of the six biotechnology degree programs in our system if not for the presence of Cook Medical Group in Bloomington.” John Whikehart, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington

“The entire New Tech family is extremely grateful for the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Cook. The Cook family was instrumental in helping to establish Bloomington New Tech High School. They have provided strong financial support, which has allowed us to create a 21st Century High School with strong focus on academics and relationships in an environment with 1-to-1 computing.” Alan Veach, principal of New Tech High School in Bloomington

The New Tech High School on Bloomington's west side. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

“The generosity of the Cook family has impacted generations of MCCSC students. The breadth of opportunities provided for students through their financial support is quite diverse. What has not varied is their commitment to student engagement and to the development of 21st Century learners.” Tina Peterson, executive director of the Foundation of Monroe County Community Schools

Michael McRobbie, president of Indiana University
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2010