Commencement May 18, 2003
Honorary Degree: Religious Studies
Conferred on Bernard J. Cooke
Candidate presented by: Rev. Philip Rossi, S.J., Professor and Chair of Theology
Bernard J. Cooke, internationally recognized theologian and educator, has been a pioneer in shaping Catholic theological education in colleges and universities for more than forty years. Joining the Marquette faculty in 1957, he soon instituted an undergraduate theology major and revised the curriculum for master of arts students.
Generations of Marquette students remember him for his indefatigable energy, his enlightening closed circuit television lectures for undergraduates, his "Cooke Book" of notes for graduates, his passion for justice and his dedication to the improvement of general education throughout the university. He received Marquette's Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 1964.
His most lasting accomplishment at Marquette was the inauguration of the Ph.D. program in Theology in 1963. Marquette was the first institution in the nation to offer doctoral level training to Catholic laypeople in preparation for careers of theological scholarship and teaching. Dr. Cooke's enduring legacy are the three hundred graduates of Marquette's doctoral program who have taught in college and university classrooms throughout North America, produced significant theological scholarship, and served as leaders in the academy and in the church.
As a theological scholar, Dr. Cooke has published major works on the sacraments and on ministry in the Catholic Church. After leaving the Marquette faculty in 1968, he lectured in many countries, worked extensively in programs for lay ministry formation, and has held faculty positions at the University of Windsor and the University of Calgary in Canada and at the College of the Holy Cross here in the United States, where he held the title of Loyola Professor of Theology. His books, articles, courses and lectures have been for many people throughout the world a rich source for theological reflection and inspiration.
Marquette University is proud to welcome Dr. Cooke home to Marquette and to acknowledge his gifts as an educator and scholar. Because of his many contributions to Marquette and his pioneering work for Catholic theological education in colleges and universities, Reverend President, I hereby recommend Bernard J. Cooke for the Marquette Degree of Doctor of Religious Studies, honoris causa.