Assistant vice president for University Outreach
Royrickers Cook is the assistant vice president for University Outreach. He provides leadership to the university's outreach centers and institutes and is responsible for advancing the university's outreach mission of applying the academic expertise of faculty, staff and students to the direct benefit of external audiences. Cook holds three degrees in public administration and public policy from Auburn University.
1. You have three degrees from Auburn; has your professional career been exclusively at Auburn?
I'm proud to say I'm an Auburn man through and through. I was born, raised and educated right here in Auburn. While my academic and professional career has been centered at Auburn, the nature of our outreach work has provided me with rich professional experiences throughout the state, and even across the globe. I've had the opportunity to work with corporations in developing executive training programs, establishing nonprofit regional community foundations, and most recently, in creating international educational partnerships.
2. How did your professional background lead you to outreach?
My academic background is public administration and public policy which focuses on policy, processes and partnerships related to government, community, civic and business infrastructures. Outreach work centers on these same processes as we seek to apply university expertise and resources to strengthening our communities and elevating quality of life for all citizens. Thus, outreach was very appealing for me as an academic because I could readily combine theory and practice in a real setting, and make a difference in our community at the same time.
3. Why do you believe outreach is important to the mission of Auburn University?
As a land-grant institution, the mission of Auburn University is outreach, along with instruction and research. It is what defines us distinctly from other state or private colleges. We extend access to instruction beyond the campus to help citizens meet their educational aspirations; we apply our research in useful and practical ways to solve problems in the community. But just as importantly, outreach strengthens the bond between university and community to make us a stronger, more relevant and creative institution.
4. In your 11 years as assistant vice president for university outreach, what have been some of the initiatives in which you've been involved and of which you are most proud?
I am very proud of the restructuring we've done to make University Outreach a more effective and dynamic organization, including the establishment of a full-service professional and continuing education office, and the creation of an Office of Public Service. I am also proud of our expanded activities and offerings with the Economic and Community Development Institute and the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Outreach, working with faculty and students in several academic programs, is seeing great success with the K-12 College Prep initiative, which is now serving two rural school systems and making a positive impact on student academic achievement. Lastly, I am equally proud of the expanded reach of the Center for Governmental Services, which is at the forefront of our current global initiatives, which has already netted a major contract with an international company, and is in the process of launching partnerships with universities in two African countries.
5. What is your favorite thing about Auburn?
The heart for public service that Auburn faculty, staff, students and alumni have. The Auburn Creed says we "believe in the human touch," and I think that really is what our outreach mission is all about. Every day, I can say Auburn University is making a difference!