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Helping engineering students fulfill their full potential

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June 15, 2015

Education has always been important to Clifford Cook ’69, ’70. His parents, both educators, taught him early on that a good education has the power to change lives. It’s the old saying about teaching a man to fish, Cook said.

Clifford CookThat is the philosophy behind much of the philanthropy and volunteer work he and his wife, Maureen ’70, have done over a lifetime together. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the University of Detroit Mercy College of Engineering & Science and on the Board of Trustees for the University of Findlay in Ohio.

“I believe because my parents were both educators and the fact that I have a special needs daughter, I’ve developed a strong desire to help others get the best foundation possible for a meaningful and productive life,” he said. “I know I have been truly blessed in my life, and with my wife of nearly 45 years, we have tried to give back to the community and the causes that have touched our lives and our children’s lives.”

Established last year, the Clifford and Maureen Cook Scholarship is an expendable scholarship fund, providing assistance for new students entering the engineering program who may not be able to attain an engineering degree at University of Detroit Mercy without additional financial support. He also wanted to help minority students, who are underrepresented in engineering.

“As a board member of the University of Findlay, I am also very aware of the debt that many students accumulate while attending college and it bothers me personally,” Cook said. “So we wanted to give as many University of Detroit Mercy engineering students as we could a chance for a great education. It’s also important because this is a country that’s short of engineers.”

He believes so few students enter the engineering fields because the average high school student doesn’t understand what an engineer does, and because students often shy away from science and math classes, for a variety of reasons.

Cook earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Detroit and an MBA from Boston University. He joined Marathon Oil Company in 1969 and worked for the company for 42 years, retiring in 2011. But his expertise was needed, so he returned as a consultant; he retired a second time this past January.

He met his wife, Maureen, when she was a student at Mercy College of Detroit and the two have four children. They split their time between Ann Arbor and Bradenton, Fla.

Big fans of University of Michigan sports, they have funded a hockey scholarship and donate to the University of Findlay. They also give generously to other organizations, including the Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy, which provide training and job placement for people, like their daughter, with special needs.

The couple enjoys traveling in Europe and the United States and taking in the Florida amusement parks.

“We just hope that what we’re doing gives students the tools they need to fulfill their potential,” Cook said.

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