Cook to Deliver Lee’s Summer Commencement Address

Graduation, News

Phil Cook will deliver the commencement address at Lee University’s summer ceremony on Saturday, July 31, at 10:30 a.m. in the Conn Center.

“We are excited once again to be able to host our traditional commencement exercises,” said Dr. Mark Walker, president of Lee. “It is a wonderful time of celebration for our students and their families, and for us as an institution. To have Phil Cook as our commencement speaker only adds to this special day. He embodies Lee in so many ways, and for him to address our graduates is a true honor for them and the university.”

Cook has been a part of the Lee University family for more than 30 years. He and his wife Tonya, both Lee alums, began their service at Lee as resident directors. He served at the university from 1993–2021, and his tenure in the Office of Admissions began in 1997. Most recently, Cook served as the vice president for enrollment, where he was responsible for admissions, financial aid, graduate enrollment, international students, Kingdom Players, and veterans affairs.

He earned a Master of Divinity at the Church of God School of Theology and his Bachelor of Science in business from Lee. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“It was my privilege to serve Lee University for 28 years after my 4 years as an undergraduate student,” said Cook. “It is the place that, quite literally, changed my life. I was fortunate enough to witness the historic transformation of our campus, and I am honored to be back for the summer 2021 Commencement. Having participated in many graduation events over the years, I know how important this celebration is to our graduates and their families, and this year will be no different.

Cook recently moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he works as executive director and CEO of the North American Coalition of Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP), an organization that supports and coordinates the student enrollment efforts of 300 faith-based institutions across the country.

“I am full of gratitude for this opportunity. Gratitude to the Lord, President Walker, and to every member of the Lee University family,” said Cook. “Lee is the standard by which all other Christ-centered institutions are measured, and I am grateful for the many faculty, staff, and students who made our Lee experience so special.”

Lee’s summer commencement is one of three graduation ceremonies held each year at the university. Over 175 degrees are set to be conferred in the Saturday morning ceremony. Additionally, 32 graduates from 2020 will participate in the ceremonies, since theirs were cancelled.

Prior to the Saturday commencement, a commissioning ceremony will be held Friday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m., also in the Conn Center. The commissioning service is a special occasion for students and their families to reflect on student experiences at the university. During the event, there will be five student speakers who will share brief stories about their time at Lee. Each graduate is presented with a personalized Bible in a traditional walk across the Conn Center stage.

A reception will follow the commissioning ceremony for all in attendance.

A hooding ceremony for recipients of master’s and education specialist degrees will take place Friday, July 30, at 4:30 p.m.

Masks are encouraged for those who have not been vaccinated. In addition, there will be a three-foot social distancing protocol in the balcony of the Conn Center.

For those who wish to view the events, live streaming will be available at The hooding, commissioning, and commencement ceremonies are ticketed events.

For more information about commencement exercises, please contact the Academic Events Office at, (423) 614-8117, or visit the website at

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