Dean and Professor of Law
Cathy Cox was named dean of Mercer University School of Law, on July 1, 2017. She previously served as president of Young Harris College and Georgia’s secretary of state.
A 1986 magna cum laude graduate of Mercer Law School, Cox is the first alumna to lead the School – other than on an interim basis – since William Augustus Bootle, who was dean from 1933 to 1937.
Cox served as the 21st president of Young Harris from 2007 to 2017, leading its transition from a two-year college to a four-year institution and overseeing unprecedented growth. Prior to assuming the Young Harris presidency, Cox served two terms as Georgia’s secretary of state, and was the first woman in the state’s history to be elected to the post, first in 1998 and again in 2002. As secretary of state, she moved the largest division of her office from Atlanta to Macon and instituted a universal electronic voting system to improve the accuracy of the state’s elections, making Georgia the first American state to do so.
A native of Bainbridge, Cox began her political career as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, where from 1993 to 1996 she represented Miller, Seminole, Early and Decatur counties. Before being elected secretary of state, she served for two years as assistant secretary of state. She has remained an active member of the State Bar of Georgia, and, in 2011, was presented with the Traditions of Excellence Award for General Practice by the State Bar’s General Practice and Trial Section.
Cox was a newspaper reporter for three years before entering law school, working for The Times in Gainesville and The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge. She earned a degree in journalism, summa cum laude, from the University of Georgia in 1980 and is a 2013 inductee to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Grady Fellowship. In the spring of 2007, she held the Carl E. Sanders Political Leadership Chair at the University of Georgia School of Law. Cox also holds an associate’s degree in agriculture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
After graduating from Mercer Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Mercer Law Review and a member of the Brainerd Currie Honor Society, Cox practiced law full-time for 10 years in Atlanta and Bainbridge. A former member of the Mercer Board of Trustees, the Mercer Law School’s Board of Visitors, and the Wesleyan College Board of Trustees, Cox was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mercer in 2007.
Cox is a 1990 graduate of Leadership Georgia, is active in the United Methodist Church, and is a member of numerous philanthropic and civic organizations. She also serves on the Board of Directors of United Community Banks, Inc. She is married to attorney Mark Dehler.