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Pacific mourns loss of professor Caroline Cox

Beloved history professor Caroline Cox passed away on Friday, July 11
Jul 11, 2014

Caroline Cox, former interim dean of the College of the Pacific and professor of history, passed away on July 11, 2014, after a long battle with cancer. She was 59.

"I am deeply grieved by the loss of Professor Cox," said University of the Pacific President Pamela Eibeck. "For the past 15 years, Caroline elevated the level of intellectual life on campus, distinguished herself as an outstanding scholar, and influenced the lives of countless students. Bill and I extend our deepest sympathies to Caroline's family and friends."

Cox was born on November 23, 1954 in Glasgow, Scotland, and came to the United States in 1978.  Prior to beginning her academic career, Cox spent many years working as a financial analyst on Wall Street. As time passed, a career in academia beckoned to Cox, who obtained her bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from University of California, Berkeley, all in history. After graduation, Cox joined the Pacific faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor of history. She remained at Pacific for the next 15 years, becoming a full professor in 2010 and serving as interim dean of the College of the Pacific from June 2012 until February 2013.

"Over the past year I saw how much she was cared for by her close friends and colleagues here at Pacific, and how much she cared for everyone here, and this place," said Dean Rena Fraden. "She was generous to all of us and she will be missed beyond measure - for her tremendous Scottish sense, her humor, her intellectual verve, and for her gift for living decently and well."

Throughout her academic career, Cox received many honors, including the Pacific Distinguished Faculty Award, the Faye and Alex Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award, Pacific Alumni Association Faculty Mentor Award, Dr. Caroline Cox at Commencement, 2010the Eberhardt Teacher/Scholar Award, the Pacific Fund Research Grant, and the Eberhardt Research Fellowship. Cox was also the internationally recognized author of "The Fight to Survive: A Young Girl, Diabetes, and the Discovery of Insulin," "Opening Up North America, 1497-1800," which she co-authored with Pacific colleague Ken Albala, and "A Proper Sense of Honor: Service and Sacrifice in George Washington's Army." At the time of her death, Cox was putting the final touches on a book forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press, tentatively titled "Boy Soldiers: War and Society in the American Revolution." 

Beyond her academic and professional achievements, Cox was known for her personal investment in the lives and successes of her students. She was integral to forming Pacific's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and served as one of its first presidents (2007-10).  

"Pacific has lost a wonderful faculty member with outstanding teaching, scholarship, and leadership," said Provost Maria Pallavicini.  "Caroline's deep commitment to her students, colleagues and Pacific was truly exemplary. We will miss her sense of humor, her smile and her wisdom."

Cox also stressed to her students that going to college did not necessarily mean following the traditional high school-to-college model. There are other ways of gaining an education, she told students.

"Education comes in many directions, as my own experience indicates," said Cox, who began her college studies at age 30, upon receiving the Faye and Alex Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014. "If something gets in the way of your pursuit of education, it is not the end of the world -it's just another path. Over years, I have become more adamant about that. Innovative thinking comes from a broad range of backgrounds."

Cox is survived by her husband, Victor Ninov; her brother Andrew and her sister Sheila; and five nieces and nephews. Details on a formal campus memorial service for this autumn will be released later, as will the family's wishes regarding a designation for memorial contributions. Memories of Dr. Cox can be shared on the University of the Pacific Facebook page