On October 28, Dr. William “Bill” R. Cook, a noted medieval scholar and seasoned and highly regarded lecturer inaugurated the new McCloskey Speaker Series with his talk Three Men Named Francis. In his speech he enlightened the community with a history and character revelation of Saint Francis of Assisi. He expanded upon this famous historical figure by drawing a connection to Pope Francis and himself, who both, in their own ways, try to emulate certain traits of Saint Francis in their daily lives. He encouraged listeners to find someone they admire–someone in history, someone contemporary, someone fictional, etc.–and try to emulate their admirable traits as they forge their own path.
Bill graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wabash College and received his MA and PhD at Cornell University. He is an expert on medieval and Renaissance history, which he taught for 42 years at the State University of New York at Geneseo and retired in 2012 with the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor of History. He has won many teaching awards and is the author of five books and the editor of several others. He is also the founder of the Bill Cook Foundation, which is dedicated to the mission of helping some of the world’s poorest children get the best education possible. In general, it aims to fund tuition and other direct expenses for children, including housing and food in particular instances of need.
The McCloskey Speaker Series was made possible by a donation from the McCloskey Family Charitable Foundation, made with the goal of launching and underwriting the operational costs of the McCloskey Speaker Series in perpetuity at Thacher. The purpose of these talks is to bring high caliber, inspirational resources with a wide degree of expertise and interests to Thacher and to the Ojai community at large.