Marist Bids Farewell to a Beloved Member of the College Community

Elisabeth Tavarez

Gerard (Jerry) Cox ’55 was the former VP and Dean for Student Affairs, as well as a Heritage Professor and Professor Emeritus of English.


December 12, 2019—It is with great sadness that the Marist community notes the passing of Gerard (Jerry) Cox on December 5, 2019.  Jerry retired from Marist in 2001 as Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs. A talented and committed teacher, administrator, and playwright, few people had a larger influence on the development of the College as a student-centered institution. In fact, as a former Marist Brother, he was literally one of the builders of the College. Many members of the community remember Jerry from the iconic photograph of the Marist Brothers and their building tools called the “construction gang.”


Jerry graduated from Marist in 1955 with a degree in English and, after graduate school at Hunter College, returned to the College in 1967 as a faculty member in the English Department. He was named an Assistant Professor of English in 1970 and was granted tenure in 1974. In 1969, in addition to his faculty position, Jerry was appointed Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs. He continued to work in the Academic Dean’s Office until 1979, when he was named to the position of Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs. After his retirement in 2001, the Board of Trustees bestowed upon Jerry the status of Heritage Professor and Professor Emeritus of English in recognition of his outstanding service to Marist.  


During his long career at Marist, Jerry oversaw a period of remarkable change and growth in our student body, from the exponential increase in resident students to the development of the College’s Division I athletics program. In the late 1970s, he created the Marist Mentor Program to help freshmen make a successful transition from high school to college, greatly enhancing both the student experience and student retention. 


In addition to his fine leadership of Student Affairs, Jerry is perhaps best remembered as the father of Marist’s modern-day Theatre Program. For many years, Jerry was the mainstay for the theatre arts at Marist as the longtime advisor for the Marist College Council of Theatre Arts (MCCTA). With his background in English, Jerry had a great appreciation of quality writing and how important a first-rate script is to a successful play. A published playwright, he mentored countless student playwrights and made the theatre an integral part of the Marist experience for so many students. For those who have ever attended any of Marist’s top-notch theatre productions, Jerry’s legacy can be seen on full display. Upon his retirement, former students, colleagues, family, and friends established the Gerard A. Cox Scholarship to benefit Marist students who show an exceptional commitment to the theatre arts. In 2014, the College dedicated the Theatre Lounge, located adjacent to the Nelly Goletti Theatre, in Jerry’s honor.


The Cox family is truly a Marist family. In addition to Jerry, his late wife Peggy was a 1973 graduate, as are two of his children, Stephen (1995) and Anne Marie (1999). His other son Andy married a Marist alumna. It should be noted that Stephen Cox works in Marist’s Information Technology Department as Manager of Telecomm and Card Services. It would be fair to say that there are few others more closely associated with the College than Jerry and the Cox family.

Jerry Cox in 2002

Jerry Cox in 2002

Calling hours will be held on Friday, December 13 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Straub, Catalano & Halvey Funeral Home at 55 E. Main Street in Wappingers Falls. A funeral Mass will be offered on Saturday, December 14 at 11 a.m. in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel on the Marist campus, followed by the burial at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. At approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, members of the Marist community are invited to join the Cox family for a reception in the Hudson Riverview Rooms in the Murray Student Center. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that gifts be made in Jerry’s memory to the Gerard A. Cox Scholarship; c/o College Advancement; Marist College; 3399 North Road; Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.


Countless numbers of Marist graduates benefited from Jerry’s wisdom and guidance as a faculty member, administrator, and advisor.  His mark on the College is indelible, and his memory will be a blessing for many years to come.

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