Bob Cook Talks to Readers

Robert E. Cook

I gave the commencement address this year and was around Indiana for ten days or so, the longest time I’ve spent there in decades.

There were many who took the time to say “Thank you” for my efforts at IUP and the Cook Honors College (CHC). (You’ve got to love that catchy name.) At Commencement, I made the assertion that IUP now has our nation’s best value in academic education for students from families of modest financial means. That is perhaps an outrageous assertion, but it’s true.

My remarks are on the CHC website. Poke around the site; we have tried to make it easy to navigate. The recruiting and the publicity for the CHC, and for IUP as our parent, are being moved largely onto the Web to attract a larger, broader audience for recruiting and for philanthropy. We are rebranding the site to make that easier.

Many have asked for ways to help out with what we have been doing at the CHC, often with the caveat of limited personal funds. Lately, we all have more limited funds, but it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference, and it is not just about the money. What, therefore, should IUP Magazine readers do to help out?

As background, the CHC is demonstrably one spectacular place for kids with serious academic talent and little money to exploit it. For example, our only finalist for a Rhodes scholarship is the child of two high school teachers. We IUP alumni know about how much teachers are paid. There is a section on big scholarships awarded to CHC students on the website and a piece by the director of the CHC, who does a spectacular job, on her experience with three daughters applying and going to college. There are depth and texture within the website for decision making and much descriptive food for thought. We endeavor to make the operation of the CHC fully transparent for anyone with a brain, and we express opinions about why the CHC succeeds.

First, send us every smart kid you know to be interviewed and to consider applying to the CHC. By smart kids, I mean those who love scholarly pursuits; they love to read, to argue, and they have done very well in high school. We particularly like those special kids who can’t afford Harvard but might get in if they applied. We are only as good as the students we admit to the CHC and IUP.

If readers want to give money, it doesn’t take much to make a difference. The biggest need at the CHC is for Achievement Money, which is the term used for financial support for study abroad, internships, and other broadening experiences that tend to make our students better, more catholic thinkers. At IUP broadly, the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex needs readers’ support to help fully fund this important capital project.

I gave some more money this year to IUP and the CHC to be used mostly for Achievement funds. I spend $3,000 to $5,000 per year for each student who is awarded Achievement Money; it adds up to about $200,000 per year. From each of these students, I get a letter, telling me what they have done with the money and how it has impacted them. I read every letter and find them unusually satisfying, and often quite moving. You might find the same thing, or better, for $5,000 given once, or more often.

It occurs to me often that I have never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.

—Bob Cook ’64