Harford Community's Cox to head Massachusetts college

Harford Community College finance chief John L. Cox has been named president of Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts. A Bel Air resident and Bel Air High grad, Cox will assume his new post July 1.
Harford Community College finance chief John L. Cox has been named president of Cape Cod Community College in Massachusetts. A Bel Air resident and Bel Air High grad, Cox will assume his new post July 1. (submitted photo, Patuxent Homestead)

John L. Cox, vice president of finance for Harford Community College, has been appointed president of Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Mass.

Cox, a Bel Air High School graduate who lives in Bel Air, will take over from Kathleen Schatzberg upon her retirement at the end of June. His appointment by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education was announced Wednesday.


"As a Bel Air High School graduate who thoroughly enjoys Harford County, I recognize there are times when one needs to move on to the next challenge," Cox, 49, wrote in an e-mail Thursday, in which he also mentioned his experiences working for Harford County Public Schools before joining the staff at HCC.

"I have enjoyed my experience at Harford County Public Schools working with [the late Harford school superintendent] Jackie Haas and at HCC," he wrote.


According to its website Cape Cod Community College enrolls 4,500 students a semester and has a full-time faculty of 68, plus 194 adjunct teachers. In addition to its main campus in West Barnstable, the school has a center in Hyannis. The website says three out of four Cape Cod students enter a degree or certificate program after leaving the two-year school.

HCC has 9,400 students enrolled in credit courses in the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to its website, plus nearly 2,000 students taking non-credit courses.

"I'm really excited," Cox said about the position. "I've met extensively with the board at Cape Cod [Community College] and they've been really supportive."

His family has also embraced the move, helping to "take off some of the sting into making the transition."

Moving onto another opportunity after nine years at HCC will be a huge shift, one he feels he's prepared for thanks to his HCC service.

"The college has always been supportive in my efforts on the educational side," he said, referring to his pursuit of a doctorate while employed at HCC. He also said that early on in his career at HCC he "refined my interests in moving ahead in a leadership capacity" and was able to get involved with campus operations, all getting him to the point where "I'm now ready to become the president of [a] college."

Cox said the Harford County community has been great to work with and he "will definitely miss it."

Before joining HCC, from 1999 to 2003, Cox worked as the Harford County Public Schools budget director.

Cox and his family were able to familiarize themselves with the Cape Cod campus before he was considered for the position.

During a family vacation in Cape Cod last summer, Cox just happened to get word of the position opening up at the college.

"We went over to the campus and sort of sneaked around, trying to look at it and see if it would work," he said. Based on that quick stroll through the campus, Cox felt the college had possibilities and decided to go for the opportunity.

While he isn't arriving in Cape Cod with a specific plan on what he wants to do with the campus, Cox noted that he has set "visionary parameters."


"I [am] not arriving day one with pre-conceived notions with what I [want] to do with the college and campus community," he said. The future president wants to take time to understand that college's specific culture and become immersed in the community aspect.

One focus he wants to continue, however, is the college's drive to create jobs in the state through workforce development. He also hopes to balance the developmental needs of students and those coming to begin their college careers at Cape Cod.

"There's a lot of opportunities at Cape Cod Community College to keep them [students] on the trajectory to greatness," he said.

Cox believes it's "good to keep moving along and trying to progress," and that was one reason behind the move.

He stressed that he has the highest regard for HCC.

"It's a great place and it always will be a great place," Cox said.

Cox earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate in eduction from the George Washington University. He has also taught and been published in peer-reviewed publications.

At HCC, Cox has facilitated expansion of environmental sustainability initiatives at the college, including almost 250,000 square feet of LEED building renovations and construction and campus outreach through the college-wide Sustainability Committee.

According to his biography, Cox is recipient of the 2010 John Grenzebach Award for Outstanding Research in Philanthropy for Educational Advancement through the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Cox will finish the current academic year at HCC and then will spend time in Massachusetts preparing for his transition to the CCCC presidency, effective July 1.

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