Get to Know . . .
Dr. GM Cox
Dr. Cox currently works as the Director of the Master of Public Administration Program at Tarleton. During his career, he has served in the role of a Chief of Police for 33 years. Additionally, he has also worked as a city manager, a Law Enforcement Specialist, a Non-Comissioned Police Officer for the US Air Force, and was a graduate of the Leadership Command College for the State of Texas as well as the FBI National Academy. Furthermore, he is a Past-President of the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
Dr. Cox received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University, and began his Ph.D. program at the age of 50 years old, graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington’s doctoral program in 2011. He claims: “I am the living proof that an average person can actually achieve a PhD.”
On a personal note, Dr. Cox is married with five children, and 11 grandkids counting two on the way. He is an avid motorcycle rider, stating: “I ride a Harley A 2013 Road King Classic. I just finished a 5,500 mile ride in July. In 10 days, we took one day off.”
COGS: The MPA program is pretty new. What exactly is your role here at Tarleton?
GMC: I got here in August of 2015. For our coursework, we’ve created a plan that is progressive, but what we wanted to get to is a solid core PA program. We don’t focus on urban PA, suburban PA, or rural PA. Our motto is “All communities deserve great leadership.” I don’t come out with a hegemonic preference for urban PA. Not everyone cares about the big city problems, so I wanted to make the program with just a very solid core. The MPA is a 36 hour program offered online, and face-to-face. It is a 10 course core program, with thesis and non-thesis options. Everyone who graduates under new program has to have a comprehensive exam, and/or a 6 hour thesis. There is no advantage one way or the other. If you’re research oriented, do a thesis. If you’d rather have classes, that’s what the electives are for. Since I came to Tarleton, we’ve had 9 graduates, and two of them did papers. One student created a strategic plan for Erath County, and it includes just about every aspect of a county government. It is like looking down a road, using a 90’s crystal ball . . . maybe not predicting the future, but sculpting or crafting it. One of the greatest sayings on the planet: “I may not be able to predict the future, but I can make it.” The best thing is, you can do something now to create a future. When I started my Ph.D. at 50, then I graduated and things fell in order. It happened because I took actions 10 years before.
COGS: What does Public Administration cover?
GMC: What doesn’t PA cover? PA is public works, water, schools, firemen, housing, education, homelessness, addiction issues, mental health, filling potholes, everything. PA is delivering services to people at local, state, and federal level. We focus on three areas—public agencies, non-profits, NGO’s. What’s neat about being in the school of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Strategic Studies is that a good deal of what happens is very relative to CJ. CJ is part of PA. Everything done in CJ applies to public administration; however, not everything done in PA concerns CJ.
COGS: What do you find most rewarding about working with grad students?
GMC: I actually like teaching the best of everything I do. The research is important, and allegedly the reason you do research is to stay abreast in your field. You learn more about your job, but I really like the teaching part. I go in there and I interact with my students. We have a good time, we laugh a lot, I don’t take myself that seriously. I am the first among equals in a class. I try to tell everybody you have a perspective, you have knowledge that I don’t have, so you share yours, I’ll share mine, and we will come out and be better off. I won’t always agree with you, and you don’t have to agree with me.
COGS: What are your goals?
GMC: Number one to get the MPA program launched fully. I think it’ll take me another year to get it where I need it to be. I want to implement an MPA minor as well. We do not currently have a PA undergraduate presence.
I am also looking at taking a group of students to NYC in spring 2017 for Spring Break where they can look at Comparative PA. We will see how they do it. We will use mass transit. Many Texans don’t even know how mass transit works. We will go see a Broadway play, we will go see city hall, and working governmental operations. In other words, many times we see things, but we don’t really see them. I always tell people go to any coffee shop on main street America and just sit there and watch. You can watch people if you want – that’s fun to do – but I really want you to look at things like how many people did it take to build this road? How many people decided to put that sign there? And why is it there? Look at how many people drive by going from one place to another. PA made that happen. Start appreciating that.
My wife and I are building a home on Lake Livingston right now. We have 11 grandkids, so our goal is to create a place where they can all come, my kids and my grandkids, so we built the house a little bigger than we needed to. My wife is probably going to regret that because she has to clean it. I’m going to ride my Harley. The first thing I am going to do when I do retire – whenever that is – is to make a circumference of the United States ride with a buddy. All the way around the edge. That’ll take us about three months.