Lisa Pike Masteralexis: Robert Cox will be missed

Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Robert Cox will be missed

I applaud Jacqueline Voghel’s “History with Heart,” (May 29) a wonderful tribute to Robert Cox, late head of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The article highlighted Cox’s profound influence and legacy on SCUA. I would like to share further detail to his legacy. When an opportunity arose to compete for the Collection of Mark H. McCormack, late founder of IMG and the father of sport marketing, Rob was a ready partner.

In our quest for the collection, which Rob said may be the largest and last business archived in paper (vs. email), we competed against 30 universities. What set us apart in landing the largest gift in the university’s history was the uniqueness of the partnership between Rob and our sport management department.

In addition to archiving the collection, Rob helped develop our plans to activate it with faculty, students and alumni to create an educational legacy to honor Mr. McCormack, including naming our department and our research center for him. SCUA and the McCormack Department of Sport Management collaborated to hire an archivist, digitize Mr. McCormack’s papers, launch a case study collection, develop an Executive in Residence and an oral history of sport executives, and seek global partnerships to further Mr. McCormack’s view of sport business being global.

These initiatives enhance students’ educational experiences, build research and educational partnerships, not to mention grow the reputation of the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in the Isenberg School of Management.

Rob’s humility and gentle hand fostered collaboration between faculty, students, researchers, writers, and SCUA staff in activating the collection for the world beyond UMass. Integration between the library and an academic department built an educational platform to make the collection relevant.

Rob brought an entrepreneurial spirit to the acquisition and activation of the collection. His salesmanship, engaging personality, humor and knack for conversation on just about any topic — with degrees in paleontology, microbiology, history, poetry, and library science — was a key to our success in securing the McCormack archives.

We are all better off for Rob’s unique contribution to our department, school and university.

Lisa Pike Masteralexis


The writer is a professor and former chair of the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management.