Dr. Les P. Cook took office as the 12th chancellor of Montana Technological University on July 1, 2019. Since then, he has realigned the leadership team and cabinet to be a shared governance model, successfully hired several new senior leaders, and involved a broad and diverse group of employees, students, and others in leading numerous strategic efforts.

Together these teams have completed a new strategic plan, Deliberately Distinct: Positioning Montana Tech for the Future; finalized and begun implementing a strategic enrollment plan, established a new brand promise and accelerated brand and messaging campaign, developed a focused master plan and completed a campus space analysis that will one day lead to greater campus vibrancy and aesthetic appeal, departmental synergies, and overall efficiencies.

Physically, the campus has been significantly upgraded, starting with completing the Student Success Center, including 166 additional residence beds. Further enhancements include completing the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory Power-Systems Lab, newly remodeled and updated dining services, a complete renovation of the Library Auditorium, and near completion of the new state-of-art Lesar Family Nursing Simulation Center. Additionally, technology has been updated throughout campus, creating smart classrooms that better meet in-person and online learning needs.

Opportunities for students have expanded as well. The Montana Board of Regents approved two new degrees, a PhD in earth science and engineering, and a master’s of science degree in restoration ecology. Both the civil and mechanical engineering programs acquired ABET accreditation. Highlands College has developed new credentialing and other opportunities to meet employment needs in the region. The Orediggers added two new NAIA sports: track and field and cross country. The Foundation has worked hard to increase financial aid/scholarship opportunities via the launch of the Butte Vision and Liberty Scholars initiatives.

In October of 2021, Montana Tech received a $7M gift, the largest in history, from Sherry and Dave Lesar for the Nursing Department. The gift will be used to grow and sustain the nursing program’s quality and reach. In November, the Nursing Department was renamed the Sherry Lesar School of Nursing.

All these efforts and accomplishments and more are part of Montana Tech’s vision to be the institution of opportunity and innovation. Cook is steadfast and passionate about leading the way.

Before joining the Montana Tech Family, Cook spent 16 years at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. At Michigan Tech, he held numerous leadership positions, including vice president for strategic university partnerships, vice president for student affairs and advancement, vice president for student affairs, and vice provost and dean of students. Before Michigan Tech, Dr. Cook held positions at the University of the Pacific, University of Utah, and Salt Lake Community College.

Dr. Cook earned a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in social science, and a bachelor of science in political science from Utah State University. Dr. Cook also completed Harvard University’s Institute on Educational Management.

Cook is actively involved with several professional and student service associations. He is the chair of the Foundation Board of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), former region IV-East vice president, and NASPA national board member. Cook serves as a trustee of the LeaderShape Institute Board of Trustees and has long served as a lead faculty member. Previously Cook served as chair of the chief student affairs officer’s group for the Michigan Association of State Universities, on the board for Student Affairs Today, is a lifetime member of the National Orientation Directors Association, has been an active member of the Association for Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Cook is actively involved in the Butte community. He serves on the Butte-Silver Bow County Healthy Task Force, along with the local economic development group and is a board member and executive board member for the Butte Chamber of Commerce. 

Les and his wife, Stephanie, have two grown children: Cole, who works for the Florida Panthers Hockey Team and lives in Phoenix, AZ; and Adison, who is pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Montana in Missoula.