President Emeritus Clyde Cook's Legacy

A Missionary At Heart

Cook, a fourth generation missionary, never aspired to be a university president, but, instead, always saw himself as a missionary. Born in 1935, Cook grew up in Hong Kong. When the Japanese invaded in 1941, he, his parents and five siblings were imprisoned for six months in three separate concentration camps. They nearly starved to death -- as many of their fellow prisoners did -- on a diet of rice and soup made with only a few Chinese greens.

They later settled in Laguna Beach, Calif., where Cook excelled on his high school basketball team. As the 1953 California Interscholastic Federation's "Basketball Player of the Year," Cook received lucrative scholarship offers from 13 colleges and universities. He planned to play for the University of Southern California, but, two weeks before classes started, he began to rethink his priorities.

"I wanted to invest my life in something that would last for eternity," Cook said.

So he enrolled at Biola Bible College to prepare for professional Christian ministry. There, he met his wife, Anna Belle Lund ('55), and earned three degrees: a bachelor's degree in Bible, a master of divinity and a master of theology. After a five-year stint as Biola's athletic director and coach of the men's sports teams, he, Anna Belle and their two young children, Laura and Craig, left as missionaries to the Philippines. But they returned four years later for Cook to head Biola's missions department, which he did for 12 years. In 1979, Cook was appointed the president of Overseas Crusades, a missions agency (now called O.C. International), succeeding evangelist Luis Palau.

Biola's Board of Trustees watched as Cook grew Overseas Crusades and increased its financial stability. So, when then-president Dick Chase left in 1982 to become the president of Wheaton College, the Board invited Cook to be Biola's seventh president.

After praying about the offer, Cook felt he could do more to influence world missions as the president of a Christian university than he could as the president of a missions agency. So, with the blessing of Overseas Crusades' board, he accepted their offer.

When Cook stepped into his new office, he knew, first off, that he needed to change some minds. Now a university, Biola needed to start seeing itself as one.