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Campus Community Remembers Anthropology Professor Virginia Cox

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 9:33 am / August 25, 2017

B&W portrait of Virginia CoxT. Virginia Cox, associate professor emerita of anthropology, passed away Aug. 6 at the age of 79. She will be remembered by the campus community for her leadership and passion for introducing students to the field of anthropology.

“My first course in cultural anthropology was with Ginny Cox in 1981,” said anthropology lecturer Kendall House. “I took a half dozen more classes from her before I graduated. Ginny was ahead of her time in centering her courses on students. She gave you complete responsibility for learning, and allowed you to choose most of what you read. Student presentations were as frequent as her own lectures. In her classes I learned the hard way how to develop original research papers.  I began to take initiative and find my own way – habits that proved to be enormously helpful at graduate school. Most importantly, I came to realize that anthropology was whatever I could make of it, rather than a curriculum defined by someone else.”

Cox first accepted an instructorship in anthropology at Boise State College in 1967, following graduate study at the University of California, Davis. While her emphasis was in cultural anthropology, early in her career Cox conducted archaeological research that included the initial investigation of the Braden site.

During her tenure, Cox was a founding member of the Canadian studies program at Boise State and served as its director. She also worked with students to spearhead the founding of Boise State’s anthropology club in 1967 – the university’s oldest academic club.

Cox left Idaho to pursue her doctorate, eventually earning her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1980, where she studied under Judith Hansen, an educational anthropologist who wrote on socio-cultural aspects of human learning.

She then returned to Boise State, where she served as anthropology coordinator in sociology, anthropology and criminal justice administration, and later as chair of the Department of Anthropology.

Professor Cox also served as a member of the board of the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium and as a board member of the Council of Anthropology and Education Committee of the American Anthropological Association. In this capacity, she served as program chair for anthropological studies of school and culture, and women in schools and society committees.

Cox’s primary research interests included maintenance of traditional culture, and health and ritual healing. These interests saw her conduct ethnographic research in Samoa, Japan and western Canada. Her work in Japan led her to provide assistance to Boise State’s Asia university program.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in memory of Dr. Cox be made to the anthropology scholarship fund.