Eight to Be Honored at Annual Cook Award Dinner Feb. 19

The award is named for Samuel DuBois Cook, Duke's first black professor

Eight members of the Duke-Durham community have been selected as 2013 Cook Award winners, named for Samuel DuBois Cook, the first African-American faculty member at Duke.

The winners will be honored at the 16th annual dinner and awards ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. All were chosen in appreciation of their work in furthering Cook's legacy. 

Cook joined Duke in 1966 as a political scientist, educator and human rights activist, becoming the first African-American professor to hold a regular rank faculty appointment at a predominately white college or university in the South. The Cook Society was founded in 1997 to recognize and celebrate the African-American presence at the university. This year's ceremony will highlight Cook's role as one of the first African-Americans to integrate Duke's campus 50 years ago. 

"In this year when we are called upon to reflect on the impact that African-American students have had on our university over the last 50 years, this year's event takes on special significance. Dr. Cook was not only a model scholar and teacher for black students during the early years of their presence on campus, but his values and insights point us to the work needed over the next 50 years," said Ben Reese, vice president of Duke's Office for Institutional Equity, which organizes the ceremony.

Kevin White, Duke's vice president and director of athletics, has been selected to receive a distinguished service award. Appointed in 2008 by Duke's Board of Trustees, White has made an impact on diversity in his short time at the university, overseeing the hiring of nearly 80 women and people of color in the athletics department.

Besides doubling the number of minorities, White hired the university's first African-American head coach (wrestling) and will, this summer, begin an internship program for students from historically black colleges and universities. He also has strengthened campus and community outreach.

Additionally, since White's arrival, Duke has captured three NCAA championships and team members continue to have strong academic performance and regularly participate in community service projects. 

Other winners are:

-- Lee Baker, the dean of academic affairs for Duke's Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and the associate vice provost for undergraduate education, was selected for his mentoring and teaching vigor. Baker has directed the Mellon Mayes Minority undergraduate fellowship program, the Duke in Ghana program and the Cardea fellows program, designed to help high achieving pre-health students increase their skills in math and science. His popular "Anthropology of Race" class examines "human variation and the historical development of concepts of race, science and scientific racism, folk concepts of race, and the political and economic causes of racism." 

-- Marcus Benning, a Duke junior and history major from Atlanta, Ga., is president of the Black Student Alliance and senate president pro-tempore for the Duke Student Government. As a student leader, he helped found the Black Culture Living Group, fulfilling a demand that Duke's black students made nearly 40 years ago for a campus residence, open to all students regardless of race and ethnicity, that promotes cultural awareness and academic engagement. Benning has participated in DukeImmerse in South Africa, spent a summer as a high honors student at Oxford University and earned a place on the Dean's list since fall 2010. He plans to attend law school following graduation.

-- Li-Chen Chin, director of intercultural programs in student affairs, joined Duke in 2008 as director of International House, a center which advocates for the international student population at Duke and provides outreach to Durham. Since she arrived, Chin has also become the director of Duke's Center for Multicultural Affairs, which seeks to create a rich cultural experience for students in today's global environment. She has developed the university's first online international orientation program, helping undergraduate and graduate students as well as visiting scholars and their families acclimate to life on campus.

-- Daniel Kimberg, a 2007 Duke graduate and Robertson Scholar, founded Student U, a nonprofit that works with nearly 300 Durham public school students, from 6th to 11th grade, and their families to ensure they develop the academic and personal skills to succeed in college and beyond. The first recipient of the Durham-Duke fellowship, Kimberg made a commitment as an undergraduate to educational reform for the underserved, designing his major around education policy and practice. He has taught English classes in New Orleans and Israel and math classes in South Africa. He currently serves on the board of 3DWomen, a weekly Christian TV program, and Book Harvest, a children's book donation initiative. 

-- Dorothy Powell is a clinical professor and associate dean for Global and Community Health Initiatives in Duke's School of Nursing. As founder of the program, Powell has developed international and local opportunities for student cultural immersion. Her goal is to help students increase their cultural sensitivity and experience the challenges of health care delivery to vulnerable populations. Her international work has involved countries in the Caribbean, Central America, Africa and parts of Asia. She has created ongoing bonds between the School of Nursing and organizations that serve homeless and other high-risk communities in Durham. In addition, Powell has increased opportunities for the economically disadvantaged and under-represented minorities in nursing at Duke. 

-- Yuridia Ramirez, a Duke history doctoral student, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student. After earning an undergraduate degree in history and journalism at the University of Minnesota, Ramirez came to Duke and began work on a research project examining the migration of Latin Americans, particularly Mexicans, to North Carolina. In order to promote higher education among under-represented students, Ramirez volunteers at El Kilombo, a nonprofit focused on the concerns of people of color, migrants and low-income residents. She is also an ESL, math and science tutor for middle and high school students in Durham and a member of the Huston-James Society, which provides academic, social and professional support for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. 

-- Charles West, a Duke senior majoring in history and sociology, is actively involved in civic engagement on campus. He has served as treasurer for Duke's NAACP collegiate chapter for three years, as a member of the executive board of Duke’s Partnership for Service and completed a DukeEngage micro-finance internship. West has helped plan and execute the university's black student recruitment weekend each spring and has helped refocus the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a school-wide day of service for undergraduates. West continues to help plan and orchestrate programming for the student body.

For more information and to find a list of past award recipients, visit www.duke.edu/web/cooksociety.