New endowment launches outreach award honoring Vice President for University Outreach Royrickers Cook

Published: October 05, 2021
Font Size

Article body

University colleagues, friends and family have unveiled a new endowment creating an outreach award for faculty and staff honoring Vice President for University Outreach and Associate Provost Royrickers Cook. Senior Vice President for Advancement John Morris presented a certificate to Cook at a recent ceremony, officially establishing the Dr. Royrickers Cook Endowed Engagement Award.

“This award will carry the namesake of an individual whose passion is to make a difference in the lives of those around us, both near and around the world,” said Morris. “Dr. Cook’s leadership and commitment to improving our communities will inspire others for years to come.”

The ceremony featured presentations highlighting Cook’s two-decade career and accomplishments in the University Outreach division. The program, emceed by the Director of the Carolyn Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities Mark Wilson, included reflections from Auburn University Provost Bill Hardgrave, retired Vice Provost from Clemson University and colleague Ralph Elliott, Assistant Vice President Emeritus for University Outreach and Public Service Ralph Foster and Royrickers Cook’s wife Catrina Cook, who represented the Cook family. 

The new endowment, created from gifts received from more than 40 family members, friends and university colleagues, will support the new award that will be presented annually to an Auburn faculty or staff member who exemplifies ongoing and purposeful commitment to implementing outreach, as well as promotes positive civic and community engagement. The award honors Cook’s leadership and accomplishments as vice president for University Outreach at Auburn, his success in faculty and staff engagement and his position as an internationally known higher education leader and professional committed to advancing Auburn’s mission of outreach worldwide.

“Through his leadership of Auburn’s outreach programs, Dr. Cook continues to demonstrate the true impact of servant leadership to our campus community and beyond,” said Hardgrave. “This award represents Dr. Cook’s tireless efforts to ensure Auburn delivers on our mission to ensure the work of our university is benefitting the communities and citizens we serve.”

Cook, who holds three degrees from Auburn, culminating with a doctorate in public administration and public policy, has led University Outreach since 2006. In his role, Cook oversees the division’s eight program units and provides university-wide leadership for engagement initiatives, which advance the university’s outreach mission of applying its educational resources to help people in the state and across the globe.

“We’re so thankful to our family and friends who have made gifts to establish this award in my husband’s honor," said Catrina Cook. "His dedication to Auburn University and the mission of University Outreach will continue to grow into a special legacy honoring Auburn University’s faculty and staff."

The longtime Auburn administrator was moved by the honor.

“I am moved by this honor and very appreciative of all those who worked to establish this endowment,” said Cook. “It is both exciting and rewarding to see Auburn’s mission of outreach being the focus of the endowment and now knowing that our faculty and staff engagement will be recognized and supported for years to come by this award.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.