The story behind the The Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU evolved over nearly 10 years of friendship between LSU Alumni Association President Dr. Charlie Roberts and then-ARCO Industries CEO, Mr. Lod Cook. The two met in 1984 when LSU alumni traveled to Los Angeles to support the Tigers in their highly anticipated football matchup with USC. Cook, who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from LSU in 1950 and 1955 respectively, was a longtime LSU benefactor. He invited the group to dinner at the company’s headquarters – and a friendship was born.
In the next two years, Cook was named President followed by Chairman of the Board of ARCO. He continued to loyally and generously support LSU Alumni Association programs. In 1990, while Cook was visiting in Baton Rouge, Roberts broached the subject of a new alumni center. “How does the Lod Cook Alumni Center sound?” he asked. The two discussed the idea over dinner, and by the next morning initial planning had begun.
Cook’s lead gift was celebrated in 1993. The Lod Cook Alumni Center was dedicated on May 20, 1994 with special guests former United States Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush; Chief of Staff Mark McLarty representing President Bill Clinton; and Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards in attendance.
Seven years later, Roberts convinced Cook there was a need for an on-campus hotel, and the philanthropist made the initial contribution to begin building The Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU. Roberts still calls it “the best sales job of my life.” On October 21, 2001, the only privately owned and operated alumni association hotel in the country was dedicated at another gala event with President George H. W. Bush in attendance.
The Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU has been in successful operation for more than 11 years. Dr. Charlie Roberts and Mr. Lod Cook remain close friends to this day and continue to share the vision of great things to come for LSU Alumni Association and The Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU.