Joseph Anderson "Joe" Cook (1911-1928)
The first president of then-Mississippi Normal College, Joseph Anderson “Joe” Cook oversaw construction of the original buildings and guided the school during its formative years, from 1911-28.
Cook served as superintendent of the Columbus, Miss., city schools prior to being selected as president of MNC. The school’s five original buildings were College Hall (the academic building), Forrest County Hall (men’s and married students’ dormitory), Hattiesburg Hall (women’s dormitory), The Industrial Cottage (training laboratory for home management) and the president’s home (now the Alumni House).
On September 28, 1928, at the behest of Gov. Theodore G. Bilbo, President Cook was summarily dismissed by the Board of Trustees. The reason given was Cook’s age (he was 65), but onlookers saw it as a political ploy because Cook had not supported Bilbo in the recent gubernatorial election.