Cook Chapter History

Founding of Alpha Zeta
On January 2, 1922, a senior collection of agricultural students established the idea of forming an honorary agricultural society at Rutgers University. The College of Agriculture had been founded the previous year, and already, agricultural students had found the need to bind together. They met in the old Poultry Building, since renamed Thompson Hall, under the sponsorship of Professor Willard C. Thompson. The new organization was named the "George H. Cook Club" in honor of Dr. George H. Cook, who was one of the chief organizers of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and its first director.

In the latter part of April, 1922, a petition for a charter to establish a chapter of Alpha Zeta was sent to the High Council and was approved. Thus, on May 22, Brother Potter was able to install the Cook Chapter as the thirty-second chapter of Alpha Zeta, and initiate its members.

Dr. George H. Cook
George H. Cook, a Rutgers University professor for 30 years, provided New Jersey and the nation with many discoveries that benefited agriculture as well as other industries. As a New Jersey State Geologist, he was responsible for creating the first detailed topographical maps of the state, an ambitious project that took nearly a decade to complete! Dr. Cook's topographical maps identify every forested area, swamp and wetlands, and water bodies in New Jersey with an amazingly accurate tolerance of 30 meters, and even include the full 1880s road and rail network of the entire state. The college name was recently changed to Cook College in honor of his many achievements. As furthur details will show, George H. Cook was by far the most important single figure at ninetenth-century Rutgers.

Cook was the single reason as to why Rutgers is designated as a land grant school and not Princeton. In 1859, university President Theodore Frelinghuysen fired every faculty member except George H. Cook. His devotion to the college and well-liked demeanor elevated him to a stature above all other professors at the time. In 1862, the first Morril Act was passed by the US congress. This act provided grants of federal land to support schools that would offer courses of study in mechanized agriculture and begin agricultural research projects. A unique American contribution to higher education, this land-grant concept transferred research technologies to local problems and helped agriculture in the state dramatically. Cook rallied for Rutgers to be the beneficiary of this award. He made the critical difference in the fight with Princeton for land-grant designation; due to his experience as assistant state geologist, he knew the state better than anyone at Princeton. He and his colleagues did the necessary lobbying of the legislature and Rutgers was given the land.

Among other numerous achievements, George Hammell Cook became the first director of the agricultural experiment station, and was the first secretary of the NJ state board of agriculture.

Dr George H Cook




Cook after winning Rutgers as the Land-Grant School

The Founding of Cook College
The Hatch Act of 1887 allowed for research grants in agriculture. Cook used this act to set up New Jersey's first Agricultural Experiment Station. Cook established the Agricultural Experiment Station on the College Farm shortly following its passing. In 1914, the Smith-Lever was passed in congress. This allowed for the cooperative extension programs to be implemented at Rutgers. Such programs allowed for the spread of agricultural knowledge to the public through organizations such as the 4-H clubs. As more and more courses were instituted into the Rutgers programs, separation between the "Rutgers Scientific School" and the main college became distinct. In 1921, the section known today as the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, was formally named "College of Agriculture."

Thompson, Martin Halls in 1920