A Faculty Farewell

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January 24, 2018

It is with the deepest gratitude for her service that we announce the departure of Kathy Lilla Cox from her role of Associate Professor of Moral Theology at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary.

As Cox departs from the SOT, she is preparing to move to Southern California to be closer to family and will spend her time writing on her research in various disciplines: including women in scripture as models for ethical leadership, the application of neuroscience and genetics to moral formation and action, and the ethics of speech.

Cox served as a professor for the SOT for 11 years, beginning as an assistant professor in 2007 and receiving her tenure and a promotion in 2013.

Before coming to the SOT, Cox received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Detroit in 1989 and then taught high school science in New York. The main connecting thread through these experiences was her love for teaching and learning.

“I've always enjoyed ideas and reading. And so teaching allows you to continue to explore ideas with other people,” Cox beamed. “Teaching allows you to not only pass on knowledge, but to explore new questions and ideas with groups of people with diverse perspectives.”

Science proved to be just the beginning of her various scholarly interests. She needed to pursue a master’s degree as she taught in New York, and she chose to take an unconventional route for a science teacher: a master’s degree in theology. She had observed a gap as students in her science classes asked ethical questions that she did not feel equipped to answer.

This degree proved to be transformational in her career as she fell in love with the disciplines of theology and ethics. She went on to earn her Masters of Theology and Ph.D. which led to teaching moral theology at the SOT/Sem.

Her teaching approach to moral theology was grounded in an enduring commitment to practice as transformational.

 “I think moral theology at its best helps us think about what it means to live the life of discipleship which is captured in the idea of loving God and neighbor and loving the created world. It's about saying ‘yes’ to God and figuring out together what that means.”

She notes that her experience at the SOT was especially confirming of her love for teaching and theology. She drew on her students’ varied experiences of life and the Church, and credits this diversity for increasing her knowledge and making her a better teacher.

“I know I’m leaving for something good but there is also sadness at leaving something good,” Cox recalls. “It has been a great faculty to be a part of. The student body with a mix of students from different countries around the globe, combined with the ecumenical diversity of students, the mix of lay men and women, religious and monastic men and women, Catholic deacon and priest candidates,   …, and in some instances women who are seeking ordination in other Christian denominations. It has just been a very rich teaching experience.”

Dean of Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary, Fr. Dale Launderville, OSB, notes: “Kathy has blessed the SOT/Sem with her wisdom and dedicated service.  She has consistently been a voice for those who might be rendered voiceless by our ways of doing things and thus called us to greater self-reflection on how well we measure up to our Benedictine and Catholic values of listening, especially to the poor and marginalized.  We pray that her voice of conscience will continue in our memories and shape our practices.  We will miss her as a valued, congenial colleague.”

From all faculty and staff at the SOT/Sem, we would like to thank Kathy Cox for the wisdom, dedication, and passion that she has brought to our community. We wish her the very best on her next endeavors.