When Nancy Cox came to the University of Kentucky in 2001, it was not even a news item that her appointment as associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture was the first time a woman had held that post.
However, by the end of the next year, then-President Lee Todd cited Cox' appointment as a sign of progress in UK's attitude toward promoting women into positions of power.
The recent announcement by Christine Riordan — UK's first-ever female provost, who came onboard this year under President Eli Capilouto — that Cox will be the next dean of UK's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and first woman to hold that job, is welcome and encouraging.
Cox will succeed Scott Smith who, as dean since 2001, has had an enormous positive impact on the college, the agricultural economy and the opportunity for Kentuckians to eat food grown in their state.
Cox reflected that commitment to outreach at the time of her appointment. "We're always thinking about solving problems in our community," she said.
Both in 2001 and 2013, Cox clearly got the jobs on the basis of her strong credentials. She is by all accounts an accomplished researcher, teacher, grant-getter and administrator.
So, Cox wasn't hired because she is a woman but because she is so very well qualified to lead the department.
That said, many highly qualified women have left UK when doors stopped opening. It's a credit to both Cox and UK that didn't happen this time.