The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Ashland University names Jim Cox as Assistant VP of Correctional Education

Cox looks to change the negative narrative on incarcerated individuals
Provided by James Cox

Jim Cox has had a different course in life to now filling the shoes of Assistant VP of Correctional Education at AU, but it began with a heart for serving others. Cox’s background is not traditional for education in corrections and is a CPA by experience. 

“Although I began my career… I didn’t stay in public accounting too long,” said Cox. 

Afterwards, Cox made the transition to the healthcare industry, focusing on the business aspect, and he spent over 17 years in, but this transition allowed him to live in Mansfield. To “make a long story short,” in the words of Cox, he began teaching 

He started out in 2010 teaching at Ashland Prison Education and a few other sites.  That was Cox’s entrance into the Correctional Education division at Ashland University. 

Cox was “doing some other things at the time”, but he eventually started teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2015 and became a site director. As Cox explained, these are the Ashland University employees that go into prisons. 

In 2018, Cox moved up to a business manager at three of the prisons in the network. This led up to today when Cox was selected to be the Assistant VP of the whole division. 

Cox felt an attraction to correctional education since he enjoys serving others, which began back in high school, and instead of taking the usual spring break trip to Florida, Cox did something unexpected. 

[Through] high school and college, my then girlfriend, now wife of 33 years … we go on service projects in Tennessee and Kentucky, so I always had a service heart,” said Cox. 

Cox mentioned how his father counseled him to have a business background to make sure Cox was financially stable to support serving others. 

The skills that Cox learned from his business background helped him later in correctional education. 

“The Correctional Education division, the work has been a perfect ability to work with the men and women that really deserve and need the 2nd, 3rd, 4th,5th, 6th[and] 7th chance,” said Cox.  

When asked about any success stories Cox had while teaching in the correctional education program. He mentioned that his stories are “one of a 1000”. 

He explained how that best part was watching an incarcerated student have a “light bulb” switch on since being exposed to higher education and concepts.  

Cox did point to one story, which happened with Cox just walking into the grocery store.  

“I am walking into Kroger, and this is before Covid,” said Cox. “I hear ‘Mr. Cox, Mr. Cox’, and I recognize the gentlemen, but I don’t remember if he was a student or a site director. He was so excited to introduce me to his daughter as a teenager to tell me how great she was doing in school with her grades, and she was beating him and he was so proud of her.” 

Cox explained that it was exciting to see higher education and goals reuniting them back together.  

For the Correctional Education division at AU, Cox would like to change the perception to show that the incarcerated are not “bad people.” 

“[The incarcerated] made a bad choice, they want to reengage in society, so to really one of the thoughts I want to do is begin to work with students on campus and find ways to talk with students,” said Cox. 

Cox hopes to work with students on campus this year, and to continue to grow the division. 

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