Tim Cook, Fuqua '88, will assume responsibility of Apple Inc.'s daily operations while Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is on medical leave of absence until the end of June, Jobs announced Monday.

Jobs, 53, is taking time off to recuperate from health issues that are "more complex" than initially realized, he said in the statement. In a letter last week, Jobs explained that he is suffering from a hormone imbalance but assured readers that he had already begun a "relatively simple and straightforward" treatment, The New York Times reported Monday.

Cook's appointment is "a real coup" for the Fuqua School of Business, Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard said. During his days as a Blue Devil, Cook was the model business student, Sheppard recalled.

"[Cook] was considered a leader, and he was a really, really good student-well-liked by his peers, always prepared, tough but fair," Sheppard said. "We would have predicted good things for him. I'm not sure we would have predicted this, but we would have predicted good things for him."

Having a graduate in such a prominent position will enhance the clout of the relatively new business school, which enrolled its first class in 1970 and still had a relatively small student population when upper management officials of Cook's generation were seeking MBAs, Sheppard explained.

"It's important that your students succeed-it's especially important to us because we're young as a school," Sheppard said. "Someone in such an incredibly high position is just wonderful for us."

Cook's leadership of Apple presents invaluable networking opportunities for current students of Fuqua, whose placement of graduates in information technology is somewhat low relative to other industries, Sheppard said. In addition, the headlines Cook has grabbed may pay dividends down the road when Fuqua recruits future generations of MBA students.

"Apple is iconic today," Sheppard said. "There's very few firms that you could think of that have greater awareness in the world, and what's interesting is Apple has greater brand awareness the younger you go. If you think about future students, it's really good.. The acknowledgement that he was critical to [Apple's] recent success is really important."

Cook previously held leadership positions with IBM and Compaq, and he stepped up as interim CEO while Jobs recovered from pancreatic cancer surgery in 2004. Fortune magazine commented on his bright future with Apple in a Nov. 10, 2008 article titled "The Genius Behind Steve: Could Operations Whiz Tim Cook Run the Company Someday?"

Jobs wrote in a letter to Apple employees obtained by The Times that speculation about his health "continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well." Apple's shares dipped nearly 10 percent after-hours Wednesday with the announcement of Jobs's leave of absence, The New York Times reported-indicating that Cook may have his work cut out for him.

"I just hope he isn't so busy we can never take advantage of him," Sheppard said. "It's a tough job."