Before I begin to tell you some of what I've learned as I've tried to discover Mr. [William W.] Cook, please ponder two questions: What are your feelings about the Law Quad buildings? Think, for example of the first time you entered the Quad; studying in the Reading Room; seeing the snowy Quad for the first time; and socializing in the Dining Room. You probably have a flood of memories connected to these buildings. The Law School has outgrown them in many respects, but the buildings will always be inspirational. Second, let me ask what you know about William W. Cook? How did he acquire the fortune he gave to the Law School? What law did he practice? Where, and when, did he live? I know that, before I undertook my research into Mr. Cook three years ago, I could say that I knew the buildings better than the man who gave us these cloistered, special buildings. In brief, Mr. Cook gave the University of Michigan the Martha Cook Building, then the Lawyers Club, then the John P. Cook dorm (the dorms are named after his parents, Martha and John), then Legal Research, and finally Hutchins Hall. In 1933, the University valued the Law Quad buildings at $5.3 million. He also gave an endowment valued today at $44 million. Mr. Cook was an extraordinarily generous man. His name isn't before us every day, as it would be if it were the name of the school. I was very curious to know more about a man who would give so much yet insist his name not be put on a building, let alone an entire school. I wanted to delve even deeper into "who was Mr. Cook" than had earlier writers about the Law School (Professor Alfred Conard, Elizabeth Gaspar Brown, Ilene Forsyth, and Kathryn Horste). I used archival resources as well as libraries, and dug deeply into the digital New York Ttmes and Wall Street Journal. I found more. I want to tell you some of what I have learned about this man to whom we owe so much.
"Discovering Mr. Cook." Law Quad. Notes 47, no. 2 (2004): 38-43.