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Bradley J. Cook: An Educator Putting Learners’ Needs First

Bradley J. Cook

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Early childhood experiences are not dissimilar to clay being molded into a sculpture. Life experiences and the learning it brings shape the overall development of character and personality. Born in Ogden, Utah, Bradley J. Cook is the current President of Snow College and Professor of History. At age eleven, he moved to Saudi Arabia with his family. This early experience with the Middle East was a defining experience for him and foundational to his future academic interests.  In his first year of high school, he moved back to Utah along with his family with a heightened global view and a profound appreciation for diversity. His passion for football opened the door to an athletic scholarship at Snow College. With his natural athletic ability combined with hard work and a sense of gratitude, he excelled as a student-athlete at Snow College.

Later, he had the opportunity to attend Stanford University on a scholarship where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and played football as a defensive back, earning PAC-10 Academic All-Conference honors.

After Stanford, he was accepted to Oxford University where he earned his doctorate in Middle East History. Dr. Cook has more than 25 years of experience as an executive administrator in higher education, serving in such roles as President of the Abu Dhabi Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates, Executive Vice President and Provost at Southern Utah University, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Utah Valley University.

Watch Here:- Welcome – Snow College’s 17th President Brad Cook


Presently, Dr. Cook is serving as President of Snow College. Founded in 1888, Snow College has been the epicenter for education, art, music, and sports in Central Utah. Over the years, the College has been able to produce thousands of graduates with high academic standards and is nationally recognized for its high touch, residential, high impact education.  The College focuses on offering affordable, accessible, high-quality education for rural and other underserved populations.

As the seventeenth president of Snow College, Dr. Cook understands his role and responsibility of continuing the legacy of the College. “Our challenge moving forward is to remain loyal to our past and our heritage, yet ever be faithful to our future,” he says. The College offers abundant programs.  In areas such as science, premed, and music, the College has developed a national reputation for student success and ranked best-in-class by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2019-20.

Non-Traditional Platforms: Meeting Learners Where they Are

While historically Snow College has primarily focused on serving traditional-aged college-bound students (18-21-year-olds), it is introducing two additional learning platforms to serve learning adults (22-40-year-olds) and other non-traditional populations.  Snow College recognizes that it must adjust its learning platforms to meet the needs of different kinds of learners. Some learn best in an on-campus environment, while others need an education that caters to their busy lifestyles.  The first platform is a self-paced, competency-based online program aimed at learners unable to travel to a traditional campus: rural working adults, early college students who work best from home, prison inmates, veterans in rural contexts, and other place-bound learners who have some college but no degree.  These students have the option of harnessing Snow College’s Accelerated Online Learning program where they can obtain their degree at their own pace and from the comfort of their own offices or homes.  “The program meets the demands of adult learners whose busy lifestyles require much more flexibility,” says President Cook.

The second platform focuses on offering low-cost certificates and industry-driven, stackable credentials.  Snow College will be standing up a technical education division serving students who want and require affordable technical education training. Students drawn to this type of education may not see themselves as “college-bound” but want relevant, short-term training for immediate employability.  President Cook adds, “Up to 70% of high school students in our service region don’t see themselves as ‘college-goers’ but do desire earning a certificate in welding, auto, diesel, IT, CNA, etc.” Other learners interested in technical and short-term training include professionals needing upskilling, and reskilling which result in certificates and micro-credentials that help them advance in their current careers.  These industry-aligned credentials can then be stacked to associate and bachelor degrees if the student desires. The highlight here is that courses will be offered at the fraction of the cost of typical CTE courses i.e. at $2 per contact hour that will significantly lower barriers to access. These courses will not only meet the students’ employment objectives but also close the skills-gap issues faced by rural communities.

Focusing on Overall Development

Along with academic excellence, students’ overall development is attended to at Snow College by offering over 43 student organizations, 18 academic clubs, 15 intramural sports, and 12 performance groups. Snow College has state of the art recreational facilities for activities such as swimming, tennis, racquetball, dance, bowling, and weightlifting. Nearly all Snow students participate in at least one activity ranging from student government to intramural sports to the KAGE radio club.

Over the years, the College has had an excellent national reputation in football, men’s and women’s basketball, rodeo, volleyball, soccer, and softball. With his own experience as a former student-athlete, President Cook is one of the biggest advocates of athletics at Snow College.  In 1985, Snow’s football team won the national championship and has since won several bowl games. This year, the football team enters the season ranked eighth in the prominent National Junior College Athletic Association football poll. The men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams have combined for several league championships.

Improving Learners’ Experience

Snow College is renowned for its intimate learning environment, excellent instruction, vibrant student life, and first-rate facilities – all of which are offered at the most affordable tuition in the Intermountain West; and perhaps arguably the best education value for students in the nation.

Learners of today have different needs and different learning styles and as such, higher education must keep up with current trends to meet these demands. Considering the latest trends, Snow College is a national example of an institution remaining nimble and re-imagining education through a variety of platforms. Anticipating the impending disruption in higher education, President Cook hopes that in the coming years, Snow College can serve greater numbers of students who are currently underserved, elevating their skills, and improving their lives. President Cook concludes, “Our goal is to better serve the variety of learners in our service region and beyond and close the unfortunate equity gaps that exist.”

Bradley Cook

ALSO READ: The 10 Remarkable Education Leaders of December 2023

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The Educational landscape is changing dynamically. The new generation of students thus faces the daunting task to choose an institution that would guide them towards a lucrative career.

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