David Cook is set to replace Dean Bresciani as NDSU president
David Cook was chosen to be the 15th President of NDSU after final interviews. He will take over for Dean Breciani starting in June this year. The top three candidates were chosen on Feb. 4, but were lowered down to the final selection on Feb. 23. Cook spoke in an interview with the Spectrum, discussing his plans for diversity, enrollment and student success on campus.
Cook is currently the vice chancellor for the Office of Public Affairs & Economic Development at the University of Kansas. “Before that, he spent 14 years at the University of Kansas Medical Center, including seven years as a member of the leadership cabinet,” according to NDSU.
Cook’s final interview was conducted over Zoom, as weather conditions restricted travel to North Dakota. Cook beat out 47 other candidates for the job as the University President.
The presidential search was led by Search Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Jill Louters and Dr. Greg Lardy. Greg Lardy is the NDSU vice president for Agricultural Affairs. “We all joined the group to find the right leader for NDSU, and today we found the right leader,” said Lardy after Cook was chosen.
Last year, NDSU students held protests on campus in regards to a racist snapchat group. Students criticized administration’s actions in response to diversity, hate speech and inclusion on campus. When questioned about how to improve these racial issues, Cook spoke about making sure students’ issues are being heard and building relationships with students. “I’m a big believer in building those relationships, building that trust, making sure I’m really listening to them to hear what they’re thinking,” said Cook.
“I want to hear and talk to people about, so what are the real issues where we can really make a difference across those things that are just not just a statement or something that’s happening reacting to something,” said Cook. He explained how he wants to be proactive with inclusion, so when an incident does occur on campus, he will have “a relationship there where we can talk through it,” he said.
Cook has a wife and three children, the youngest of which is currently a college student at University of Kansas. “I typically frankly love to talk about my family.” He also loves to cook, although he states that he is not good. “My wife keeps expecting me to get better, but good luck,” he said.
Cook also worked in Shanghai, China for an engineering firm to look at cross-cultural issues. “In my time in grad school I fell in love with you know intercultural work,” said Cook.
David Cook is a first generation college student and sees the importance of higher educaton. “When we are educating more students I’m a big believer that you’re changing people’s lives and you’re helping the workforce and the state and the society of North Dakota,” said Cook.
Enrollment was a large topic during the interviews, asking in what ways the new university president can improve enrollment. Cook stated that he wants to make NDSU financially accessible to a large number of people. He also said that the degrees that NDSU offers need to be relevant to the communities needs as well. “Making sure that the degrees we are offering are aligning with the needs,” said Cook.
This selection of candidates for the president’s position has been one of the most diverse that NDSU has seen. Some students on campus were hoping to see a more diverse candidate get chosen for this president position. Although David Cook is not a minority, he stated, “Diversity, inclusivity and respect is something that is going to be really important to me, and I know that it is important to the university.”
He stated that diversity among staff and students can be prioritized. “I’m in the role but what can I do from this position to ensure that we are creating more diversity across the institution.” He stated that he can prioritize diversity in the hiring process in order to get more diversity into the staff, faculty and administration positions.
David Cook will be visiting campus throughout this spring and is excited to get to know students on campus. He said that one of his favorite parts of the interview process was meeting with the students in the Dining Hall, hearing what they want out of the next president. “It was just priceless,” he said.
Cook and his wife Katie Cook will be at a NDSU student meet-and-greet from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9 in the Ballroom B of the Memorial Union. He wants to come up to NDSU throughout this spring, however he “still has a day job,” he stated.