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Joe B. and Louise Cook Professorship in Mathematics

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Joe B. Cook and his wife Louise Patterson Cook pictured on their 55th wedding anniversary, September 1, 1984.
Joe B. Cook and his wife Louise Patterson Cook pictured on their 55th wedding anniversary, September 1, 1984.

Louise Patterson Cook of Houston established the Joe B. and Louise Cook Professorship in Mathematics along with her husband in 1983 to support a faculty member in the College of Natural Sciences. The purpose of this endowment is to support a nationally and internationally recognized professor of mathematics who can attract and develop the future leaders of Texas and the nation.

Louise Patterson was born in Malvern, Arkansas. In 1923, as valedictorian of her graduating class, she received a tuition scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Though she had received a generous scholarship, Louise’s family could not afford the other expenses associated with attending the university. Just months before Louise was to leave for college, her mother, a piano teacher, had to sell the family piano to buy the fabric to make Louise’s white graduation dress.

Not to be deterred, Louise wrote the president of the University of Arkansas and asked if the school hired students. She wanted to work her way through college. The president wrote back to her, explaining she would need $320 for room and board, and that the University did not hire women. The news from the University of Arkansas’ president dashed her hopes. She went to work for the Bank of Malvern, and later moved with her family to Shreveport, Louisiana.

Louise was never able to attend college. Because of her disappointment, she decided to help others by endowing scholarships and professorships at various colleges and universities. Along with the Joe B. and Louise Cook Professorship in Mathematics, Mrs. Cook and her late husband Joe endowed the Joe B. Cook Professorship in Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Louise Patterson Cook passed away in 1989.

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