Stafford Cox likes to get involved. That, he believes, is the main reason he was recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Staff Member at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).
The Outstanding Staff Award was established in 1995 as a way to recognize those who have made significant contributions to the campus community, above and beyond their normal job duties. The award is especially meaningful because it is an acknowledgement of excellence from peers and colleagues on campus.
“I was really overwhelmed with excitement,” said Cox, an information technology consultant for CSULB’s Academic Technology Services Department. “I’m honored that my peers have selected me for this year’s recognition. My brother in Armada, Michigan, asked if it’s like a lifetime achievement award, and I answered it’s that and oh so much more.”
He believes the award is heavily based on his numerous volunteer efforts, which is how he feels it should be.
“I’d like to believe the award is 75 percent volunteer activities and 25 percent work-related because everyone on this campus is doing work that is useful and valuable to the university,” he pointed out. “What not everyone can do is take the time for extra meetings and campus activities outside the office, so I feel fortunate to be able to do that. I think the award is a reflection of one’s passion for the university and the staff members who are the institutional ambassadors.”
Cox has worked extensively with Staff Council on special events and has put time in on the children’s holiday party, the holiday toy drive, and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at CSULB as well as at other sites. He also has had a big hand in annual staff events, including staff day, the staff summer picnic and the popular Spooktacular at Halloween.
“Staff Council is fabulous in that it allows staff members to participate as part of a larger family,” said Cox. “This is like my second family here and you gain a sense of camaraderie as you participate beyond the call of duty. You know, there’s the work that’s here—the specific job to be done, then there is the ‘gravy’ for those who work for the broader demands of the campus that add to the spirit and the culture.”
He has been a Staff Council member since 1994, chairing the group from 1998-99. His participation on campus-wide committees has included the President’s Cabinet (1998-99), 50th Anniversary Planning Committee (1998-99), the 2006 Provost Search Committee and the Campus Special Events Committee (2001-present). Cox is serving as a CSUEU Certified Steward for Unit 9 (2004-present), and he was a General Council Delegate (2009-11).
He was particularly proud of chairing an event during the year CSULB celebrated its 50th anniversary where faculty, staff, students and their families were recognized on the field before a Los Angeles Dodgers game. Besides the recognition, the event served as a fundraiser for a campus student book loan program with more than 2,000 campus supporters attending the game.
He also participated in the Parent Orientation Program (POP) for freshmen students and parents, serving as the campus’ technology representative.
“Parents would have all sorts of computer questions,” he said. “The primary one I was always waiting for because I knew someone would ask was, ‘Should I get my kid a Mac or a PC?’ And I always said, ‘Get one of each.’” Parents, of course, hoped he was joking. Then he’d say, “With educational pricing, every day is a holiday at the 49er Shops Bookstore.”
A Michigan native, Cox attended the University of Michigan where he received a B.S. degree in zoology, M.S. degree in environmental health and a master’s degree in public health. He then came to California where he met his wife, Joyce, while earning a Ph.D. in public health at UCLA. They have two daughters, Amy and Sarah.
Cox was also elected to three terms on the Academic Senate (1998-2007), where he championed the passage of a smoke-free campus resolution and its resulting policy, which makes perfect sense considering his public health background.
Approaching the 25-year mark on campus, he was first hired in the Department of Academic Computing Services as a statistician in 1988.
As personal computers became a more integral part of university life, Cox served in a variety of roles—network consultant, publications editor, workshop coordinator, web designer, test scoring coordinator, multimedia specialist, information technologist, statistical consultant, software licensing and distribution coordinator. He and former colleague, the late David Bradley, put together “Internet Access Tools,” a booklet that paved the way for the campus community to get connected. Today, in addition to his analytical skills, he coordinates the distribution of site-licensed software and provides post-production support for multimedia projects.