Respected and familiar face retires after extended service
By Jeff Green
What started out as an entry-level position with the Dean of Science office 36 years ago has turned into a remarkable career for Barbara Cox – one that has spanned 10 different positions at Memorial in a variety of offices and units.
Now, the director of the Office of Research has retired, leaving behind an indelible – and incredible – legacy of dedication to Memorial.
Ms. Cox started her career at the university June 12, 1973, and officially retired June 19.
A reception was held in her honour last week.
“I am going to miss the people most,” she said modestly in an interview with the Gazette. “My staff and co-workers, colleagues and the researchers that I interact with on a daily basis. But I will also greatly miss the excitement of being in contact with innovative research throughout the institution.”
Her career began at Memorial as a clerk stenographer. She literally finished her last exam in a secretarial science program at the local trades school in St. John’s and proceeded immediately from there to Memorial to start work. Two years later she became secretary in the Faculty of Science.
Later that year, she accepted a post in the Office of Vice-President (academic) as secretary to the late Dr. Leslie Harris. A few years later she was on the move again, this time taking a promotion as assistant to the VP (academic).
“And then in 1981 – when Dr. Harris was named university president – my position was transferred to his office and re-classified to research assistant with concurrent responsibilities to the director of University Relations,” Ms. Cox said.
She moved to the Office of Research in 1983 – first as a research contracts officer and then assistant director of contracts.
In 1993, she was appointed director.
“Over the 36 years that I have worked and studied at Memorial, I feel it has matured greatly as an institution,” said Ms. Cox who enrolled as a part-time student in 1976 and graduated in 1992 with her bachelor of arts degree.
“It has certainly grown in terms of physical size, in the attractiveness of the campus, in the quality of its programs, in the carrying out of research and in its reputation for research excellence.”
She credits Memorial with fostering in her a lifelong interest for learning new things.
After more than three decades of service at Memorial, Ms. Cox – who was awarded the President’s Award for Exemplary Service in 2000 – said she is taking with her many fond memories of working with faculty and staff throughout the institution.
In addition to working with her staff in the Office of Research, she noted her time with Dr. Harris as among her favourite times at Memorial.
“I happily remember having some great discussions with him – whether the topic was Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Dr. Harris’s New Newfoundland Manifesto, or some point of world, national or especially Newfoundland history – accompanied by very strong, black tea.
“I truly haven’t been able to handle milk in my tea since those days.”