September 2015

The Enid Cook ’31 Center Opens

Cook-Center_2The Enid Cook ’31 Center, a newly renovated residential space that also serves as the Black Cultural Center, is the first building on Bryn Mawr’s campus named in honor of an African-American alumna, announced President Kim Cassidy at this year’s Convocation ceremony.

“Enid Cook was a truly remarkable woman,” said Cassidy in making the announcement. “In addition to honoring Enid Cook, The Cook Center stands as a testament to the accomplishments of the many women of color who have attended Bryn Mawr and as a reminder of the work that remains to be done in creating a more just and equitable world.”

While at Bryn Mawr, Enid Cook ’31 was denied on-campus housing and lived off campus with a local family.

Cook graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., and spent one year at Howard University, where she was a straight-A student. She transferred to Bryn Mawr in 1927, where she majored in chemistry and biology. She earned a Ph.D. in bacteriology in 1937 from the University of Chicago, where she went on to become a lecturer in the department of medicine from 1937 to 1944. In 1944, she married Arcadio Rodaniche, a doctor, and moved with him to Panama, where she served as the chief of the Public Health Laboratory for four years, then as a professor of microbiology at the University of Panama from 1954 to 1974. A highly gifted and pioneering woman in the sciences, Cook published more than 50 articles in the field of arthropod-borne viruses over the course of her career.

The Cook Center serves as the Black Cultural Center and residence for returning students who are members of the Sisterhood, BACaSO, Mujeres, and Zami. It’s also open to students who share the cultural background of members of those groups and all those who personally identify with the affinity groups.

With a total of 29 new beds, The Cook Center is able to accommodate 22 more students than Perry House, the residence hall that previously housed the Black Cultural Center. In addition to rooms for students, The Cook Center features a community room, kitchen and dining area, faculty office space, and a library made with wood from Perry.

The Cook Center is part of a larger construction project of two connected residence halls on the site of the former Haffner Hall. The Cook Center is a complete renovation of a section of what had been Haffner Hall. The other residence hall, which has yet to be named, is made up of 101 single rooms. The new hall is the first to be built on Bryn Mawr’s campus since 1969.

Today, students of color make up 31 percent of Bryn Mawr’s student population.

Comments on “The Enid Cook ’31 Center Opens”

  1. It is wonderful that Enid Cook’s story is being told, but it is worthwhile to note that much of the research that enabled that story to become a part of BMC’s institutional memory, and which majorly contributed to this center being named after her was done by the Black at Bryn Mawr project. Not citing them in this article seems a terrible oversight, especially given the incredible work they are doing unearthing the institution’s past.