The Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences
Kent Booty Associate Editor
“This is the first of our three colleges to be named and it is both fitting and proper that the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences be named in honor of two extraordinary gentlemen who have done so much for Longwood.” – Dr. Patricia P. Cormier
The Longwood University College of Arts and Sciences has been named in honor of longtime benefactors Dr. John Randall Cook, ’52, and Dr. Waverly Manson Cole who have made a $5 million gift commitment to the university. This unprecedented gift commitment will be in the form of an endowment to support the College of Arts and Sciences through scholarship funding and to meet programming and operational needs.
The Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences has been named “in recognition and appreciation for their beneficence to Longwood University, their devotion to higher education and the betterment of humankind,” according to the plaque that was unveiled Dec. 3. A dedication ceremony took place at the annual holiday dinner of the President’s Circle, honoring major Longwood donors, two days after the Board of Visitors approved the designation.
Dr. Cook, who is among Longwood’s first male graduates, and Dr. Cole, whose late mother attended Longwood, have supported the institution over the years through generous outright and deferred gifts. The Richmond residents’ philanthropy has extended to numerous other charitable causes as well.
“We are extremely proud to name the College of Arts and Sciences after our good friends, John Cook and Waverly Cole,” said Dr. Patricia P. Cormier, president of Longwood University. “This is the first of our three colleges to be named and it is both fitting and proper that the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences be named in honor of two extraordinary gentlemen who have done so much for Longwood.” Dr. Cook, a nationally recognized leader in guidance and counseling who is a former supervisor of guidance for the Virginia Department of Education, received both his B.S. (1952, in English) and M.S. (1960, in education) from Longwood. In 1998 he established the John Cook Scholarship at Longwood for incoming freshmen who plan to teach. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Longwood in 1996 and is a former member of the Alumni Board.
A Crewe native, he transferred from Georgetown University to Longwood in 1948 to be closer to home after his father died. “I attended Georgetown for two years. I was in their school of foreign service and intended to become a diplomat. Before transferring, I had worked for the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) for several years, and I took a leave of absence to attend Longwood.”
After graduating, he resumed working for N&W as an administrative assistant in the superintendent’s office in Crewe. He attended mostly night courses while pursuing his master’s degree at Longwood, and he also took graduate courses in counseling at the University of Virginia. Upon receiving his master’s, he accepted early retirement from N&W in 1960, after 20 years, and became a senior counselor at John Marshall High School in Richmond.
Dr. Cook joined the Virginia Department of Education as assistant supervisor of guidance in 1967, became supervisor in 1975 and retired in 1982. He was named the Outstanding Counselor/Administrator in America by the American Counseling Association in 1979, after previously being chosen the Outstanding Counselor in Virginia and Outstanding Counselor in Richmond. In 1991 he endowed the John R. Cook Professorship in Counselor Education in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education, and in 1995 he received the Edward A. Wayne Medal, which recognizes outstanding contributions and exemplary service to VCU. This is the most prestigious honor awarded by VCU.
He co-wrote and sponsored the first elementary guidance bill introduced in Congress (in 1979); was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government in 1945 for his service as a medic with the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II (see following story) and was on the Crewe town council for eight years during the 1950s. “I was the youngest person to ever serve on the town council. I was only 28 when I was first elected,” he said.
Dr. Cole, a retired anesthesiologist, has often honored his mother, Sallie Sterling Manson Cole (1904-2002), with his gifts to Longwood. Mrs. Cole attended Longwood, then the State Teachers College at Farmville, in 1926-27. “I was born loving Longwood,” said Dr. Cole, a Blackstone native who began his medical practice in Farmville as a general practitioner in 1957.
In 2004 he donated to the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) his collection of more than 500 pieces of 19th century Bohemian glass, Meissen porcelains and English pottery. The collection forms the Cole Gallery, unveiled at the dedication of the new Ruffner Hall in April 2005, in the area between Ruffner and Blackwell halls. He collected the pieces over 45 years in Europe and the United States, some while serving as a captain in the Army Medical Corps in Heidelberg, Germany in the mid-1950s, during which he attended the University of Heidelberg.
He created the Waverly M. Cole Scholarship for music students, the second largest scholarship fund in the College of Arts and Sciences, in 1999. Another gift by Dr. Cole endowed a permanent full-time collections manager position at the LCVA.
Dr. Cole began his anesthesiology practice in 1960 at the Medical College of Virginia (now VCU Medical Center), where he was professor of clinical anesthesiology. He then went to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he organized the anesthesiology department and was its first chairman, in 1964, and later worked at the Richmond Eye and Ear Hospital, retiring in 1999. He is a past president of the Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists and the Richmond Society of Anesthesiologists. In addition to his Longwood connections, he has been active in philanthropic and alumni activities for The College of William and Mary and VCU Medical Center, from which he received his bachelor’s and medical degrees.
Drs. Cole and Cook are often accompanied on visits to campus by their beloved dog, April, an 11-year-old mixed Jack Russell and Fox Terrier. April is known for wearing different collars and always wears Longwood blue and white – Longwood’s colors – when she is on campus.
“In addition to my mother, many other relatives of mine attended Longwood, including aunts and great-aunts,” Dr. Cole said. “My mother always said that the years she spent in Farmville were the most wonderful years of her life. When I was growing up, I thought the only place you could get an education was in Farmville.”