MACON – Former Secretary of State of Georgia Cathy Cox received the honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the 2007 commencement of the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University on May 12. Mercer President William D. Underwood and Law School Dean Daisy Floyd hooded Cox and presented the Mercer alumna with the framed degree.
In her commencement address, Cox told the law graduates that as new lawyers they have one particular responsibility – to give “the respect due our judicial system.”
She said, “When a court makes a decision that is controversial or unpopular, and the media and bloggers go wild with the ‘activist judge’ tripe – you and I need to find opportunities to re-educate our neighbors on a judge’s duty to follow the law, not public opinion polls.”
Recently named the president of Young Harris College in north Georgia, Cox was the first woman to hold the statewide office of Secretary of State in Georgia, when elected to the first of her two terms in 1999. Before her election to the statewide office, she served two terms as a state representative in the Georgia legislature.
As Secretary of State, she led Georgia to become the first state in the nation to deploy a modern, uniform voting system and moved Georgia from having the second worst to the second best voting accuracy rate in the nation. Governing magazine named her one of its 2002 Public Officials of the Year, the first Secretary of State in the nation to receive the recognition.
After completing her second term as Secretary of State earlier this year, she became the Carl E. Sanders Political Leadership Scholar at the University of Georgia School of Law.
In March, the Board of Trustees of Young Harris College elected her as the 21st president of the 121-year-old private institution of higher education. Cox will assume her presidential duties at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year.
A native of Bainbridge, she earned an associate’s degree in agriculture at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Georgia. She was a newspaper reporter with The Gainesville Times and The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge.
In 1983, she entered the Mercer Law School, where she was editor in chief of Mercer Law Review and a member of the Brainerd Currie Honor Society. She graduated magna cum laude with a juris doctor degree in 1986 and, for 10 years, practiced law in Atlanta and Bainbridge.
She has served on the Board of Trustees of Mercer University and on the Board of Visitors of the Walter F. George School of Law.
Her husband, Mark Dehler, is also an attorney.
Ms. Cox’s commencement address is online and can be read by clicking here.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.