William E. Cox, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the “professor emeritus” title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1972, Cox has made significant contributions to the field of water resources engineering through his work in water planning as well as policy and legal issues associated with water management.
Cox said his career has focused mostly on quantity, not quality of water, although the two areas aren’t independent but closely interact. “Everyone wants access to adequate water supply,” Cox said. But oftentimes, maintaining adequate supply involves manipulation of natural hydrologic systems by means of dams, water transfers, and other often controversial actions. Water projects can be damaging to environmental and social values, and many safeguards have been developed. Water supply management requires a delicate balancing of these opposing interests, and that has been a focus of much of Cox’s research.
He has held leadership positions in numerous standing and task committees of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Cox also served as an advisor to the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding water resource issues and was a member of the Water Policy Technical Advisory Committee established by the Department of Environmental Quality, the State Water Commission, and the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. He currently sits on the State Water Planning Advisory Committee.
At the international level, he has served on several committees of organizations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
He is the recipient of service awards both from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and the EWRI.
He was assistant head of the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for 14 years before his retirement on July 1 and was inducted into the department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni.
Cox received his bachelor's degree, master of science, and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.