Cox, McIntosh Honored For Civic Contributions

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NORFOLK – Two Norfolk men with longtime ties to Northeast Community College have been recognized for their civic contributions.


Dr. Robert Cox

Dr. Robert Cox

J. Paul McIntosh

J. Paul McIntosh

Dr. Robert Cox, former president, and J. Paul McIntosh, former member of the Board of Governors, were recognized at this week’s annual banquet of the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce. Both men currently serve on the Northeast Community College Foundation Board.

Cox served as the founding president of Northeast Community College (Northeast) from 1972 to 1995. Northeast was formed from the merger of two separate colleges – Northeastern Nebraska College (formerly Norfolk Junior College) and Northeast Nebraska Technical College – following the passage of LB663 by the Nebraska Legislature. This bill forced the merger of the junior colleges and technical colleges in the state and formed six community college districts. Northeast’s district serves 20 counties in Northeast Nebraska covering approximately 14,400 square miles with a population of approximately 160,000 and is governed by an eleven member elected board of governors.

Dr. Cox took on the challenging task of bringing liberal arts programs and heavy industrial programs together into one comprehensive community college. Although support was not unanimous for this new model of education, Dr. Cox was a very effective leader in bringing about collaboration and cooperation among the faculty and staff.

At the time of the merger, the college served approximately 800 credit students and offered a total of 39 programs of study. In 1973, the college campus, located in the northeast corner of Norfolk, was the site of the former Northeast Nebraska Technical College and consisted of two completed buildings and two buildings under construction.

During the 23 years that Dr. Cox served as president, he supervised the construction of ten other buildings and the acquisition of the 600-acre college farm.  In addition, he helped establish the first area-wide adult education system in Nebraska that linked community colleges with more than 70 local schools for continuing education throughout the college’s service area. Over the years, thousands of individuals have benefited from continuing education courses offered by the college.

Dr. Cox was also instrumental in developing partnerships with other colleges, including Wayne State College and Western Iowa Technical Community College, which increased educational opportunities for the region’s residents. Under his leadership, the Northeast Community College Foundation was also established with the primary purpose, at the time, of raising funds for scholarships.

Also during his tenure, Dr. Cox was instrumental in establishing satellite community college programs on the three Indian Reservations in Northeast Nebraska. Native American language, culture, and special community interest and development courses, along with regular college curricula, were offered on the Omaha, Santee Sioux, and Winnebago Indian Reservations.

At the time of his retirement, enrollment had grown to more than 3,600 credit students, and more than 70 programs and concentrations. This strong foundation established under Dr. Cox’s leadership has allowed the college to prosper in the years since his retirement in 1995. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Northeast is celebrating its 40thanniversary as a thriving community college with over 80 programs and concentrations and more than 7,300 credit students and 15,000 non-credit students. The Norfolk campus has grown to include 27 buildings, and the college has extended campuses in O’Neill, South Sioux City, and West Point.

Early in 1985, the Mayor and City Council of Norfolk decided that the City should create an annual award to recognize the excellent civic contributions of a Norfolk citizen.  The elected officials at that time decided to name the award in memory and honor of former Mayor Edward Vrzal, with Vrzal also being the first recipient. He was mayor of Norfolk from 1963 to 1972.

McIntosh is a well-known, respected community leader with over 60-years of entrepreneurial experience as a business owner and investor.

The Chamber’s Norfolk Oscar was presented to McIntosh for his “service to charitable and civic causes and leadership and significant accomplishments in his professional and volunteer activities. He has been an outspoken advocate for improvements in agriculture, housing, mental health and education, with a special passion for persons who have overcome all kinds of personal adversity to turn their lives around and launch themselves into a new life as a contributing member of society.”

McIntosh’s ties to Northeast Community College go back to 1987 when he joined the Board of Governors in April of that year as the at-large member representing all 20 counties of Northeast’s service area. During his 20-years on the board, he served as board chair in 1993 and 2000. McIntosh became Northeast’s delegate to the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) in 1997 and was its chair in 2001.  In 2002, he was honored by the NCCA with its Governor’s Award for exemplary service to the Nebraska community college system. McIntosh also served on the former Norfolk Junior College Board from 1968-73.

In November 2003, McIntosh received a Benefactor of the Year Award from the Council for Resource Development in Washington, D.C.  All eleven honorees, exceptional donors to local community colleges, were judged on the impact of their gifts on students and their communities.

McIntosh, his wife, Eleanor, and their family have supported many students over the years through scholarships and helped encourage other donors to create endowed scholarships by establishing funds to match their initial gifts.  In total, they have provided nearly $1 million to scholarships and have helped to provide matching gifts for the creation or growth of more than 70 additional scholarships valued at over $1.5 million.

In 2002 and working with the Nebraska Legislature, McIntosh also used $40,000 in matching funds to access an additional $65,000 for the McIntosh Minority Scholarship for Hispanic, African American, and American Indian students statewide.

He is also proud of his involvement in the planning and construction of the Lifelong Learning Center on the Northeast campus.  McIntosh was on the capital campaign for that structure and donated generously to it, as he did with Northeast’s Utility Line building, and the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex.

Northeast’s College of Nursing also bears the names of McIntosh and his wife after they contributed over
$1 million to the $11.9 million capital campaign to construct the facility. It houses the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs and Northeast Community College’s basic nurse aide, licensed practical nurse, and associate’s degree nursing programs. The gift also enabled Northeast to begin an endowment fund to allow for ongoing updating of the state-of-the-art equipment offsetting the need for taxpayer support.

Dr. Michael Chipps, current president of Northeast, is proud to have two distinguished people continue to be associated with the College. “We are deeply indebted to Dr. Cox and Mr. McIntosh for all they have done and continue to do for Northeast Community College. You cannot put a price on their value to the College.”

“Over the 40 years that Northeast has served Northeast Nebraska, thousands of students have learned the skills necessary to make businesses and industries thrive thanks to Dr. Cox’s foresight and leadership,” Dr. Chipps said. “Mr. McIntosh has been most generous with not only his financial gifts, but his time and talent to the College in that time as well.”

Chipps said he is pleased that both men continue to serve the College through their membership on the Northeast Foundation Board of Directors. “I want to congratulate both Dr. Cox and Mr. McIntosh on these most deserving honors. We are very proud to be associated with these two, fine outstanding citizens.”

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