The Pacific community is grieving for the loss of Dr. Caroline Cox, who passed away late last week after a long battle with cancer. Tributes and memories have been pouring on Facebook and through other social media channels, and we have gathered them here to celebrate and commemorate a life well-lived. Please feel free to leave your own memories of Dr. Cox in the comments section or on the College Facebook page.
“Dr. Caroline Cox was one of my history professors and served as one of my mentors. We worked on several projects together during my time at Pacific. She will be remembered with great fondness by the all the students and faculty that she touched.”
— John Langdon IV
“I am really shocked and saddened by this news. Dr. Cox was a wonderful professor and mentor. She was the reason why I decided to pursue a history major. I wasn’t a big fan of history during high school but Dr. Cox completely changed my opinion about the subject during my first semester at Pacific. I will never forget my final exam for US History: an essay to Mel Gibson explaining how his film, The Patriot, was historically inaccurate. Definitely an exam I had a lot of fun writing. Thank you Dr. Cox for being a great mentor and an amazing teacher. You will be missed.”
–Mireya Cristina Sandoval
“I will never forget a story she told us during Pacific Seminar 3. She used to work in finance in San Francisco, and every day she would pass the same hobo, and never thought much of him. One morning, as she passed by the same shop entryway, she heard the man weeping. Stopping everything she was doing, she stopped and talked to the man. Asked him questions. Even held him as he sobbed. She promptly made a career change to make a better impact on the future. Caroline Cox taught much more than history. The eternal flame of knowledge shines slightly dimmer today.”
— Shaun Callahan
“Caroline sent me a beautiful e-mail abut 2 weeks ago. We chatted about life in general and I thanked her again for taking on the role as interim dean when Dean Tom Krise left to be president of Pacific Lutheran University in Washington. She was a woman I greatly respected and admired and felt privileged to call a friend. In addition to being a renown scholar, Caroline was the epitome of compassion and uncompromising selflessness in a human being. I will miss her.”
— Patti Ianni
“Dr. Cox was my advisor for a while. She was always available to talk about anything, academic or personal, even after I had graduated. It meant a lot to me that she made time to come to the history capstone presentations my year despite her busy schedule as interim Dean. She will be deeply missed.”
— Courtney Frost
“She will be dearly missed by so many. I remember her fondly, from the classroom to just moments around campus. COP ’03”
— Christy Lussier
“She changed my view of the world with only a few lectures the magnitude of her loss is immeasurable.”
“Awesome professor who cared about her students and had a passion for teaching others. She will surely be missed”
— Brianne Martinez
“I had Dr. Cox in my first semester at Pacific. I remember, as a freshman, being intimidated by the big lecture sections. I was over my head, I thought. I went to her office hours three weeks into the semester and we had an amazing conversation about history and a little bit of everything else. She really defined the Pacific one-on-one experience for me that semester and throughout my time at Pacific. Her death is not just a tremendous loss to the campus, but also the community. She was truly an amazing person.”
— Tara Cuslidge-Staiano
” So so so so saddened by this. I will always cherish my time working with Caroline and her amazing commitment and spirit. You left this world a better place than you found it Caroline!”
— Jonathan Radin
“I was hired by Caroline in 2009 to teach history at UOP soon after earning my doctorate. From the first moment I met her, I felt as though we had been friends for some time already. She displayed an ease, grace, and warmth in communicating and connecting with people that was truly exceptional. One of the things I admired most about Caroline was her capacity to exercise patience with students while also providing them encouragement. We had numerous conversations on ways to challenge and engage students without overwhelming them. After teaching at Pacific for two years, I had developed a strong personal bond with Caroline as well as a mutually supportive and rewarding professional relationship. Even after I began working elsewhere, we tried to meet for lunch as often as our busy schedules permitted. I always looked forward to these meetings with her and regret that they could not be more frequent. In addition to her abilities as a versatile and witty conversationalist and an excellent scholar and colleague, Caroline provided a model for how scholars, educators, and administrators should mentor their junior colleagues and treat all people with courtesy, respect, and immense generosity. I had the pleasure of seeing her in January at a scholarly conference and will cherish the time we were able to spend together. I would not be where I am professionally without the original opportunity Caroline offered me to teach at UOP. She also wrote me many letters of reference whenever I requested one and went out of her way to introduce me to new people whenever she thought I might enjoy their company or benefit professionally from making their acquaintance. She is truly an outstanding soul whose life and work deserve special recognition and repeated celebration. I miss you dearly Caroline!”
— Robert N. Chester III
“My son attended Pacific and Dr. Cox was one of his favorite professors. I remember him saying if he had taken her class first, he would probably have been a History major instead of an English/Film major. A great loss to the academic community.”
— Sally DeLorenzo
“Dr. Cox convened a book study with me and a colleague, high school teachers, on her own time, to acquaint us with current historiography. She was generous and kind. Her death is a great loss our profession.”
Dr. Debra Schneider
I have been privileged enough to call Dr. Cox a professor, a mentor, and a friend during my time at University of the Pacific. During my senior year, in the Fall of 2009, I heard her speak at a luncheon honoring that year’s Distinguished Faculty Award recipients, and I was so struck by her passion not just for scholarship, but for her students, that I promised myself I would study with her before I graduated, regardless of my limited window of time.
In the Spring of 2010, I managed to secure a spot in her Pacific Seminar 3 class, and was slightly surprised when we spent the first evening session engaged in various ice-breaker and getting-to-know-each-other activities. They were enjoyable, certainly, but not exactly what I was expecting from someone who had a reputation for being a formidable academic. As the evening wound down, she asked us all to take our seats, and she explained just how important the evening’s lessons had been.
Early in her teaching career, she explained, a student of hers unexpectedly passed away. When she informed the class the next morning, many students were confused, as it was early in the semester, and none of them really knew each other’s names. She had decided, from that moment on, that the most important thing a student in any of her classes could learn were the names of the people who shared the class with them. Knowledge and skills were important, certainly, but recognizing one’s fellow human beings, and extending them the dignity and courtesy of knowing their name, was far more important to her.
It was a lesson I’ll never forget.
As my memories of Pacific unspool across my mind, so many of them involve Dr. Cox – leaving the platform at Commencement and immediately being embraced by Dr. Cox and Dr. Sylvester, even though I wasn’t their student or in their discipline; running into her at a faculty member’s wedding and laughing as she spouted quotes from “My Cousin Vinnie”; the fact that she took the time to poke her head in my office on my first day as a temporary administrative assistant, just to see how I was settling in, even though I know she had her hands full in her new position as interim dean; her phone call to congratulate me when I moved on to a full-time position in a new office. She epitomized generosity, and dedication, and grit, and compassion.
So much of what she taught all of us still lives on, and will continue to live on for generations to come – not just her contributions to academia and scholarship, but the lessons she taught her students in compassion and what it means to be a good, decent, human being. For me, she is on my mind when I run my first rehearsal for my youth theatre company, as I have my students go through countless rounds of ice-breaker games and getting-to-know-you activities. What they learn about theatre arts is important, but I never want a student to finish their summer with a cast photo of people whose names they never knew.
Caroline Cox was a woman of kindness, integrity, and humor, as all of the above stories and testimonials illustrate. I am beyond saddened that she has died, but my sorrow is outpaced by my joy and gratitude that she lived.
— Ann Mazzaferro, COP Marketing Coordinator and Blog Admin