President Emeritus Clyde Cook's Legacy

Faith and Academics

Many secular universities have treated faith as antagonistic to academics, or at least as periphery to it. But, for Cook, Christianity was always the core of an education.

"I don't think you can be properly educated when you exclude Jesus Christ, the Source of all knowledge and truth," Cook said. "So, I think you get a better education here than you would at Stanford or any other school that excludes the Source of all knowledge and truth."

Cook kept the requirement that all undergraduate students take 30 semester-units in Bible, making Biola one of only two schools to require this many units in the 105-member Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Cook -- with then-provost and senior vice president, Sherwood Lingenfelter -- also encouraged faculty to teach every discipline from a biblical worldview by introducing "faculty integration seminars," where faculty are taught how to combine their faith with their disciplines. A "seventh-semester sabbatical" was also created, which allows professors to apply for a research leave every seven semesters -- if they are doing research that combines their faith with their fields ---- instead of waiting seven years for a sabbatical.

"Some would say, in mathematics, how can two plus two be spiritual?" Cook said. "Well, if you talk to our math professor Dr. Ed Thurber, he'll give you a great lecture on how mathematics shows the intricacies of God's creation and how it ties into philosophy. So, every discipline can be seen through the eyes of faith."

Cook hired faculty who would strengthen Biola academically, but who were also ministry minded, according to Dollar.

"Schools tend to go in one direction or the other, but Dr. Cook moved the school in both of those directions at the same time," Dollar said.

Cook, himself, believes one of his biggest achievements has been "maintaining Biola's spiritual dynamic and not compromising it for the sake of secular academic respectability."

The key for keeping Biola on track, doctrinally, was its faculty, according to Cook.

"One of the reasons schools have left their Christian moorings is because they build up a critical mass of faculty who do not believe the values and biblical commitment upon which the school was founded," he said. To make sure that each faculty member shares Biola's evangelical views, Cook's administration required each prospective professor to undergo several interviews, including one with Biola's seminary, Talbot School of Theology, and another one with Cook and the provost and senior vice president, Gary Miller.

"Dr. Cook carefully reviews the candidates' responses to the doctrinal portion of the application and often inquires about certain issues for clarity," Miller told Biola Magazine.

One of the most trying times of his tenure, according to Cook, was in 1997 when concerns arose over three faculty members who were part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church (a Christian church that is historically outside Protestantism). The faculty members had signed Biola's statement of faith, but their church affiliation caused a controversy across campus that was even featured in the Los Angeles Times. To help resolve the matter, the professors were put through multiple interviews to gauge their adherence to Biola's doctrinal stances.

"I tried to formulate the boundaries of our doctrinal statement, using Talbot School of Theology's input," Cook said.

In the end, Cook was satisfied that the professors upheld the statement of faith, and he felt it would be wrong to dismiss them since, during the hiring process, they had been open about their church membership. However, to clarify Biola's doctrinal stance, he had the word "Protestant" added to the statement of faith and stated that church affiliation would be looked at in future hiring.

Another one of Cook's doctrinal legacies was his commitment to inerrancy -- the teaching that the Bible is without error in its original manuscripts. Though some Christians have urged Cook to drop this doctrine -- considering it unimportant -- many Biolans applauded Cook for his staunch stance.

"Of the Christian colleges that have been around for a century or more, Biola is among a minority that has truly stayed on the classic fundamentals of the faith, including inerrancy," said Dr. Robert Saucy, who has taught theology at Biola for 45 years and served as a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

As a missionary, Cook also saw everything in light of the Great Commission. To keep Biola's historical thrust on missions, he turned the small missions department into an entire school -- the School of Intercultural Studies -- and he fought to keep the annual missions conference, even though it takes away three days from classes.

Cook also broadened Biola's understanding of missions, urging all students to see themselves as missionaries -- not just those headed for cross-cultural ministry. During graduation ceremonies, he often reminded them that they were entering their mission fields -- in the boardrooms, public schools and film studios.

This missionary zeal, applied to all careers, has resulted in a new era of impact for Biola.