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Cox an 'open book' when it comes to Northwest-Shoals future plans

Since his arrival two months ago, Northwest-Shoals Community College President Dr. Chris Cox has been an 'open book' when it comes to media access.

Cox, who started August 17, 2021, is no stranger to serving as an interim president. He's done it at Bevill State Community College and Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, so NW-SCC is his third stint.

Known as a fixer, Cox has developed a reputation for coming into less-than-ideal situations and making improvements to pave the way for his successor.

The same thing is taking place at Northwest-Shoals, where Cox announced a $30 million infrastructure project for the school's two campuses last month. That announcement was followed by last week's news that NW-SCC would reinstate athletics starting next fall. Big changes, small time frame.

There are mixed opinions about what the state of NW-SCC was when Cox arrived in August. One faction of the school's faculty stood by former President Dr. Glenda Colagross. Others said it was time for a leadership change.

Either way, Cox had no part in the decision to relieve Colagross of her duties. And he met with NW-SCC faculty, staff and administrators within days of his arrival to let them know he was there solely to support them and the institution. Cox has not, and will not, be a candidate for the permanent president's position at NW-SCC.

Cox also immediately addressed concerns about the future of the NW-SCC Phil Campbell campus, something he was asked about from the first day he took over. He says the $30 million investment for both the Phil Campbell and Shoals campuses demonstrates the school's commitment to Franklin County.

There will be more money poured into the Phil Campbell campus since it was built. We'll have that campus looking like new in the next few years and we hope that settles concerns about whether we are looking to shut down in Franklin County,” Cox said.

Although the baseball and softball programs will be housed solely on NW-SCC Shoals campus, Cox said when basketball and volleyball return, likely in 2023, the two campuses will share hosting games.

So far, he's a man of his word, so when Cox says Phil Campbell will host Patriot basketball and volleyball games, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton, a former Northwest-Shoals baseball player, said he's found Cox to be committed to working with local school systems to partner with the college.

I was very impressed and pleased to see his support of Northwest-Shoals Community College and our local school systems,” Hamilton said. “He met with local superintendents as soon as he took over and we appreciate him working to grow the partnership between Northwest-Shoals Community College and Franklin County Schools.”

When contacted by the Franklin Free Press, Cox has been candid and accommodating when it comes to interviews. And that hasn't always been the case with former NW-SCC presidents. Northwest-Shoals Community College will be forever connected to Franklin County, dating back to when it opened its doors in 1963 as Northwest Alabama State Junior College, Alabama's first junior college.

Franklin County folks still consider it 'their' school. The name may have changed after a controversial 1993 merger with Shoals Community College, but local residents want and need to know what's happening with their college, and Cox has responded.

It's fair to describe Dr. Chris Cox as an 'open book.' Unfortunately, though, that book won't be around much longer.




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