Her husband Jerry Cox ’72 had an Aggie ring, as did a lot of his family, friends and business associates. So Kay Cox ’02 wanted one too. But she knew there was only one way to get that piece of gold on her finger: earn a degree from Texas A&M University. So after raising her two children and years after undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas and receiving a secondary education from the University of Houston, Kay enrolled to earn her master’s degree in educational psychology at Texas A&M. “I had always wanted to be an ‘official’ member of the Aggie family,” she said. “Now I have that ’02 after my name, and I proudly wear my Aggie ring every single day. To me, it signifies that I embrace the core values of the university.”
Now Kay has another piece of Aggie “jewelry,” something that’s certainly harder to get than a ring: the 2017 Sterling C. Evans Medal, which represents the years of commitment she and Jerry have devoted to the university. As happy as the Coxes are to accept the award from the Texas A&M Foundation, they have given their time and resources with their eyes on even bigger rewards.
“In a world where morals and core values are marginalized or criticized, Texas A&M stands out by celebrating these qualities,” said Jerry.
“Our focus has been to elevate the university in ways that assure students have the very best of everything: the best facilities, the highest quality faculty, the most generous scholarships, the most innovative programs for learning, and the largest variety of campus programs to cultivate camaraderie and lasting friendships. Spending time and money on those attributes is one of the best investments we can find.”
- Jerry Cox '72
Jerry knows something about investments. As the son of Truman D. Cox ’44, who played on the Texas A&M football team, Jerry sees how his own experience at Texas A&M has paid off. As a finance major, he gained invaluable skills, such as learning to read profit and loss statements in a finance class his junior year. “There were limitless ways to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and warning signs within a company, all identified by unraveling the mystery of its financials,” he said. “I was fascinated. To this day, corporate financial statements give me the same thrill as a mystery novel.”
Kay '02 and Jerry Cox '72 have made a major impact on Texas A&M University and Mays Business School by donating their time and funds.
The Importance of Service
Service has been a key element of the Coxes’ life. As Jerry built his career—first as a financial analyst in New York and later as the founder and president of his own company, Cox & Perkins Exploration Inc.—the couple has faithfully given back to Texas A&M. Jerry is a past president of the 12th Man Foundation, a former co-chairman of the
One Spirit One Vision campaign executive committee and a former trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation. He has also given support and counsel in searches for top administrative positions, from university president to head football coach.
While the Coxes’ efforts at Texas A&M have been broad, much of their impact can be seen at Mays Business School, where they have contributed generously as well as countless volunteer hours. A fund to support the Business Honors Program gave a huge leg up to students in the program, and one of Mays’ buildings bears their name: the Jerry and Kay Cox Hall.
“I believe this sends a loud message to peer institutions and the business community that we are serious about excellence in business education,” Cox said in 2003 after the building was completed. “We don’t just want to move up in the rankings but desire to impact the business community. It’s not enough to just be successful in the business world. As Aggies, it’s not only our knowledge, but also our values and integrity that set us apart.”
Acknowledging the importance of strong faculty, the couple also created the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in the business school. “Faculty chairs, in our opinion, are one of the most critical elements of success in the academic world,” Jerry said. “To recruit and keep nationally recognized faculty members, it is imperative that we have supplemental financial support to fund their research and enhance their compensation.”
Focused on Students
Nevertheless, it’s the students that truly fuel the Coxes’ zeal. Of all of his activities at Texas A&M, Jerry has been most gratified by his association with Breakaway, a weekly Bible study organization. “One visit to a Breakaway gathering on a Tuesday night in Reed Arena captured my love for this ministry,” said Jerry, who returned to school later in life to earn a master’s degree in theological studies from Houston Baptist University and now serves on the board of directors for Breakaway. “Seeing thousands of young Aggies come together to worship, praise God and make lifelong friends on the Texas A&M campus is simply amazing.”
The Coxes, who live in Houston, try to establish relationships with the recipients of the scholarships they fund. “We’ve known and admired hundreds of students over the last two decades who prove, time and again, that Texas A&M attracts the hard working, ambitious, value-driven young men and women that we are proud to call Aggies,” said Jerry.
Indeed, Kay attributed one of the nicest moments of her life to the students she met while studying for her master’s. At the end of her first year, she had problems registering for her next semester’s classes. “The students sitting around me found out about my troubles. Now, remember, I am 50 years old—just a little older than them,” she said. “Not only did they offer to help me, but they registered for me. Where else but Texas A&M would I find that level of kindness?”
View past Sterling C. Evans Medal recipients here.