Gary S. Cox, Ph.D., is a lifelong Kentuckian and veteran of Kentucky state government and public and private higher education. He has served as the president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities since 1997.
Cox, originally from Crab Orchard, Kentucky, grew up in the Louisville area and graduated from Valley High School. He earned his bachelor of arts in political science at Morehead State University where he also served as Student Government President. Upon graduation, he was selected as a Fellow in the Southern Regional Training Program in Public Administration, a joint graduate program between the Universities of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee and subsequently earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kentucky.
Prior to completing his doctoral work, Cox was asked to return to Morehead State on short notice to teach for a year. He ended up teaching at Morehead for five years as an assistant professor of political science, also serving as the director of the Public Affairs Internship Program. After Morehead State he went to work for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC), where he completed his dissertation on the Kentucky General Assembly’s new interim committee system. He eventually became the agency’s deputy director.
Cox left LRC to begin a 20-year career with the Kentucky Council on Higher Education, interrupted only by a two-year stint at Kentucky State University, where he served as Dean of the School of Public Affairs. Upon returning to the Council from KSU Cox served in several capacities and, after a national search, was selected to serve as the Council’s Executive Director, a position he held for about ten years.
During his tenure at the Council, Cox was lead staff in the development and early implementation of the Kentucky Higher Education Desegregation Plan and staffed the Council’s participation in the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education initiative. Cox led the Council’s aggressive participation in the development and adoption of Kentucky’s landmark higher education reform act, 1997’s House Bill 1. When HB 1 disbanded the Council on Higher Education and formed the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Cox served briefly as acting president of the successor agency.
In November 1997 Cox was named president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities. As president, he serves as CEO for the statewide association of eighteen regionally accredited, private nonprofit Kentucky colleges and universities. AIKCU represents this diverse group of institutions with various policymaking bodies at the state and national levels; fosters information sharing, networking, and collaboration among the institutions; raises private funds in support of student scholarships and collaborative ventures between member campuses; develops cost-saving partnerships with business and other external organizations; and advocates on behalf of the nonprofit college community and their students.
Cox has served on the Kentucky Easter Seals board for over 25 years where he has held various positions including Board Chair. He currently serves as Chair of the Programs Committee. He has served on numerous other state and national boards and committees, including the Kentucky Board of Education, Education Commission of the States, the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, and the Cottey College Board of Trustees. Cox has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Campbellsville University and Morehead State University.
Dr. Cox and his wife Linda live in Lawrenceburg and have a blended family of four daughters, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He hosted Government: The Peoples’ Business, a weekly public affairs TV program on Frankfort’s Cable 10 for several years. Cox enjoys time at the fitness center, reading mysteries and following politics.
VP for External Relations and Information
Mason coordinates AIKCU’s public relations, marketing, and communications efforts and works with President Cox in the area of policy and government relations. He also manages the data, research, and information needs of the Association. He coordinates the collaborative activities of the member groups for advancement officers, public relations officers, enrollment directors, institutional researchers, financial aid directors, student affairs professionals, and campus safety directors. Mason represents AIKCU on a variety of external postsecondary-related committees and groups. He serves on the National Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities State Executives (NAICUSE) State and National Information Network (SNIN) Committee.
Mason holds a bachelor’s degree from Centre College, where he double-majored in English and history, and a Master’s of Science in Business Communication from Spalding University. He is an AmeriCorps alumnus and performed additional graduate work in English at the University of Kentucky, where he also taught first year composition.
Prior to joining AIKCU in 2005, Mason worked for Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass in Lexington. He lives in Lexington with his wife, an elementary school teacher, and their three children.
VP for Member Services
Krista plays an integral part in all aspects of business operations at AIKCU. She takes a leadership role in many programmatic functions and coordinates AIKCU’s scholarship programs.
Krista came to AIKCU after most recently serving as executive director of a non-profit agency serving children with special needs. She was previously a community development consultant serving rural, impoverished areas of the state, engaging stakeholders and advocating for communities and families at risk. Krista’s diverse career has provided her opportunities to addresss and improve disparate outcomes across the state.
Krista holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Kentucky State University.