Pam Cook awarded UD’s Medal of Distinction

Pam Cook, Unidel Professor of Mathematical Sciences who has held a joint appointment as professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, was awarded the University’s Medal of Distinction at a campus event earlier this year.

Awarded by the University of Delaware Board of Trustees, the medal was presented to Cook by Debra Hess Norris, professor and chair of the Trustee and Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees and Awards, at the UD ADVANCE and UD Women’s Caucus meeting in May.

In presenting the medal, Norris noted that in Cook’s 40-year career at UD, “she has made an impact on the lives of countless students, faculty and staff of the University.”

Her numerous leadership roles included serving as the first – and to date only –woman to chair the Department of Mathematical Sciences, a post she held when there were very few women serving as chairs at UD. She then served as associate dean of engineering for faculty for 16 years.

“Pam used these leadership roles not to further her own career but to advocate for change, to mentor her colleagues and to advance equity in countless ways,” Norris said. “In the final years of her UD career, Pam has served as principal investigator of a multimillion-dollar National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant, focused on recruiting and retaining an excellent and increasingly diverse pool of talented faculty to UD. Through the grant, the University established the UD ADVANCE Institute to improve the climate on campus for all faculty, with an emphasis on those who are underrepresented in their fields, especially women in STEM.”

The Medal of Distinction recognizes individuals who have made humanitarian, cultural, intellectual or scientific contributions to society, who have achieved noteworthy success in their chosen professions, or who have given significant service to the University, community, state or region.

In presenting Cook with the medal, Norris said, “I can say confidently that Pam Cook exemplifies these criteria.”

Responding to the honor, Cook said, “It was a surprise and an honor to have my career at UD recognized in this way. I thank the Board of Trustees and my fellow UD collaborators. Here at UD, I have enjoyed and benefited from the support and unselfish involvement of many collaborators, of the staff, the faculty, the administration and the students. I share this recognition with all of you.“

Lou Rossi, dean of the Graduate College who nominated Cook for the honor, said her phenomenal career has brought prestige to the University of Delaware in many ways. “As a scholar, her theoretical work on viscoelastic fluids has been transformative,” he said. “Within her professional community, she is a past president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, which is the dominant professional organization in applied mathematics in North America. Beyond that, her work with the UD ADVANCE leadership team and the Provost’s Office transformed faculty hiring practices at UD, bringing about crucial conversations about excellence, diversity and equity in our faculty ranks.”

A member of the UD faculty since 1983, Cook was elected a fellow of the Amerian Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree and a doctorate in applied mathematics from Cornell University.

At the May event, Pam Cook (center) is congratulated by Michelle Cirillo, associate professor of mathematical sciences, and John Pelesko, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Article by UDaily staff | Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson | July 29, 2022