Jim and Sandra Cox Leave Lasting Legacy at Mercer

Jim and Sandra Cox

Known for his athleticism as a lifeguard and local standout on the Chamblee High School football team, Jim Cox hoped that his congressional appointment to West Point would include playing football.  Once he arrived at West Point and was told he would run track instead, he transferred first to Oglethorpe University and then to Emory University.  He earned both a B.A. and J.D. from Emory.  Jim practiced law in Atlanta and says he remained physically fit by running between law offices and the courthouse.  He was drafted during the Korean War and became an assistant to a chaplain who introduced him to books on theology.  After his military discharge, Jim earned a B.Div. and Th.M. at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Jim was a teaching assistant at Southeastern Baptist Seminary when he met Sandra Hickman, a first-year B.Div. student, who was also from Atlanta.  Once, after he scored one of her papers less favorably than she thought it deserved, she sought him out for additional feedback.  They married in 1961 and Sandra worked as an editor at the Methodist Publishing House in Nashville while Jim, with assistance from fellowships and a Lilly scholarship, completed his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt.

Jim and Sandra Cox moved to Macon in 1965 and have been actively teaching, shaping and helping students ever since.  When he accepted a position to teach at Mercer, Jim became the first chair of the Political Science Department, teaching political philosophy, constitutional law and Christian ethics in the College of Liberal Arts for 38 years.  Outside the classroom, Jim served as the Honor Council advisor for 30 years.  As pre-law advisor, he mentored pre-law students, helping many students get into law school, including helping six get into Harvard Law.  Beloved by students for decades, the 1968 Cauldron was dedicated in his honor and he was awarded the Student Government Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 1992 and 2002.

Sandra was known as an accomplished actress in high school and college.  She earned an A.A. degree from Mars Hill College and a B.A. in English from Baylor University.  She taught school for one year before enrolling in Southeastern Baptist Seminary, from which she earned a M.Div. degree.  Sandra earned additional graduate degrees, including a M.Ed. and an Ed.S.  Sandra worked in public education for 32 years, both as a teacher and supervisor.  She was chair of the English Department at Central High School for nine years and English curriculum director for the Bibb County Board of Education for 16 years.  Sandra has been actively involved in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the League of Women Voters, serving as president of both.  She also served as president of Phi Delta Kappa, an honor society for educators.

Near the end of their working careers, in September 2000, Jim and Sandra Cox established an endowed scholarship to assist students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts who are political science majors and seniors.  Their intent, in addition to providing tuition assistance, was to create “highly ethical and trained citizens and leaders to serve in their local community, their state, the nation and the world at large.”  Since the scholarship became fully endowed, 38 unique students have benefited from it, with more than $43,000 awarded.  Jim and Sandra’s generosity is not limited to Mercer or the College of Liberal Arts.  They have established scholarships in honor of Jim’s high school football coach at Oglethorpe University and in memory of Sandra’s roommate at Mars Hill University.

Because Jim and Sandra Cox dedicated their entire careers to educating students, the classroom is their second home.  That is why it is particularly fitting that a Mercer alumnus and former student made a financial commitment to name Knight 203 in Dr. Cox’s honor.  The classroom will be dedicated during Homecoming events in November.

If you have questions or would like to contribute to the Jim and Sandra Cox Scholarship, please call or email Shawna Dooley, Associate Vice President for University Advancement at (478) 301-2720 or dooley_sr@mercer.edu.