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Melvin M. Cox -- 2002 Outstanding Alumnus
Bachelor of Arts -- 1969 --Political Science
Melvin (Mel) Monroe Cox, College of Arts and Sciences alumnus, is corporate vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Sun Chemical—the world’s largest manufacturer of high-quality printing inks and coatings and high performance organic pigments. In addition, he has management responsibility for the Environmental, Health, and Safety Department and is a managing director of Sun Chemical BV in the Netherlands, which is the finance and technology licensing arm of Sun Chemical.
“My liberal arts education was not merely a foundation for moving into a career, but it has also been a continuing source of pleasure to me in giving me the tools to explore the world widely and to think deeply about how each of us fits into it,” said Cox. Before joining Sun Chemical in 1989, Cox was an attorney with Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company and was in private practice with the Pittsburgh law firm of Rose, Schmid, Chapman, Duff, and Hasley.
He earned his J.D. from Harvard University 1972. While a Harvard law student, Cox redrafted the Wyoming Statutory Water Law, bringing it up to date and instituting a fair allocation scheme for Wyoming’s water resources among native peoples, agriculturists, and industry and domestic users, while emphasizing environmental conservation. Subsequently, his work was enacted into law by the legislature and is the basis of Wyoming water law today.
Cox exemplifies Sun Chemical’s “twelve values to live by” (passion for excellence, integrity, innovation, accountability, teamwork, respect for the individual, leadership, loyalty, courage, customer focus, communication, and community spirit) in all that he does. Cox was an adjunct professor of engineering ethics at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and the Arts in New York City for several years and has taught numerous continuing education courses for the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He holds directorships in companies in the United States, South Africa, and Barbados. Cox has served as a director for Good Shepherd Community Services in Bergen County, New Jersey, which provides support, counseling, and social welfare assistance for people with AIDS and victims of battery and spousal abuse. He also is a past member of the Planning Board of Edgewater, New Jersey, where he lives.
A solid advocate of the fine arts, Cox is a patron of the Metropolitan Opera of New York and the Hamptons Film Festival in Easthampton, New York. He also is a major benefactor of the UW College of Arts and Sciences Department of Theatre and Dance. His continued support of the Snowy Range Dance Festival gives young dancers in the Rocky Mountain Region an opportunity to study with the finest choreographers in the field. And his financial support in bringing The Laramie Project play to Laramie after it closed off Broadway was an important gift to the Laramie community. In addition, the Mel Cox Excellence Fund in the Department of Theatre and dance will allow students to participate in regional and national competitions.
“Support of the fine arts is not important—it is critical to sustaining culture and the transmission of knowledge in a symbolic way to the future,” said Cox. Although his career places him in New Jersey, he continues to maintain ties with the west through his continuous support of the University of Wyoming. An active member of the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) Board of Visitors (BoV) for the past five years, Cox plays a pivotal role in college fund raising and currently is serving as chairman of the A&S BoV Campaign Committee. Recently, he became a member of the UW Foundation Board of Directors, enhancing his commitment to the University.
Cox also is a strong force in College of Arts and Sciences recruitment efforts. By example, Cox helped move the BoV from philosophy to action. He constantly gives of his personal time to make contact with potential students. “I am surprised and amazed at receiving this award,” said Cox. “I think of my accomplishments as not out of the ordinary when compared to others that have graduated from UW and to be honored for doing what I think of as routinely expected of educated people is most gratifying and very much appreciated.”