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The Cox Endowment

A $1.35 million endowment from the James M. Cox, Jr. Foundation re-established the Journalism Program at Emory University in 1997. The university had disbanded a previous journalism division in 1953.

The Cox gift funds an endowed professorship dedicated to teaching journalism fundamentals to undergraduate students. The James M. Cox, Jr. Professor in Journalism is named in honor of the late chairman of Cox Enterprises, Inc., who led the company from 1957 until his death in 1974.

Cox enterprises publishes The Atlanta Journal-Consitution and 23 other daily and non-daily newspapers. A leader in broadcasting, it owns 15 television stations, 71 FM radio stations and 15 AM radio stations. Cox Communications, the third-largest cable TV company in the U.S., reaches about 6 million residences and businesses


Journalism education at Emory began anew in spring, 1997. That semester, 15 students of the new Journalism Program attended their first class in news reporting and writing. The renaissance was underway.

There are more than 60 students in today's Journalism Program who carry on the legacy of an earlier journalism era at Emory. Journalism was first taught at Emory in 1912. A journalism curriculum was the vision of Wightman Fletcher Melton, a member of the English faculty.

A formal course of journalism study evolved in the late 1920s when Raymond Nixon, a 1925 Emory graduate, took over the curriculum and started adding courses. Under Nixon's leadership, Journalism became first a department and then a division, offering graduate and undergraduate degrees.

Nixon resigned in 1952 to take a teaching position at the University of Minnesota. His planned departure led to the temporary demise of journalism education at Emory. A year later, Emory President Goodrich White and a panel of six deans voted to close the Journalism division over the protests of students and alumni. The panel thought journalism study did not belong at Emory. They also cited the high costs of upgrading to teach television and radio news and plans for a journalism school at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Except for a periodic course or two, journalism education languished at Emory until the mid-1990s. Revival of a program was the brainchild of Claude Sitton, a long-time New York Times reporter and editor and Emory graduate, and a group of news executives at Cox Newspapers.

Sitton approached Arnold Rosenfeld, then executive editor of Cox Newspapers, with the idea to create a journalism program "focused on teaching the fundamentals to students working on other degrees in business, science and the liberal arts," recalled David Easterly, then president of Cox Enterprises, Inc., the parent of Cox Newspapers. "That appealed to Arnold who brought Claude to see me."

The group met with James T. Laney, then president of Emory, and secured the endorsement of Jim Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises. Jay Smith, who later became president of Cox Newspapers, was also involved in the revival.

Easterly said that Cox and Emory agreed that a program "focused on the core skills of journalism would make sense for Emory students who are putting together expertise in other fields. The fields of science, business and religion got specific mention."

In 1995 Emory received $1.35 million from the James M. Cox. Jr. Foundation to fund the Cox Professor in Journalism.



Hank Klibanoff, James M. Cox Jr. Professor