Big East Women’s Basketball Executive to Speak at WWU Commencement

Amber Cox
Amber Cox

Amber Cox, a William Woods University alumna who has risen through the women’s basketball ranks to a prestigious position as associate commissioner for women’s basketball for the BIG EAST Conference, will return to her alma mater as the commencement speaker May 10.

Cox will address undergraduates at a 10 a.m. ceremony, following the 9:15 Ivy Ceremony. Another alumnus, Matt Cowell, president and founder of Ascend Business Strategies, will speak to graduate students during a 2 p.m. ceremony. Both ceremonies will be held in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center.

“I am pleased that Amber will be able to join us for commencement,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said. “She is a delightful young woman with a story of success to share with our students. I am sure our graduating seniors will take away many words of wisdom from someone who once sat in these same auditorium seats.”

The recently restructured BIG EAST, highly regarded as a premiere conference in NCAA Division I for men’s and women’s basketball, features 10 institutions: Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Xavier universities, plus Providence College.

Cox began her stint as associate commissioner in November 2013 after nine seasons with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, most recently as president and chief operating officer. In her final season with the Mercury, Cox directed the marketing and sales initiatives surrounding the selection of 6-foot-8 superstar Brittney Griner, the first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, leading to record-setting sales, website viewership and media impressions.

Recognizing her tremendous success and quick climb in the business industry the Phoenix Business Journal named Cox to its Forty-Under-40 Class of 2012.

Prior to joining the professional ranks, Cox served on the collegiate level as assistant director of athletics in charge of media relations and development at Columbia College. While in Missouri, she also served as the sports information director for the American Midwest Conference (AMC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Region V.

Before that, Cox spent time as an account executive at Visionworks Marketing and Communications in Columbia. A Missouri native, Cox earned her bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism and master’s degree in business administration from William Woods.

Cowell, the afternoon speaker, has been involved in the leadership and professional training industry for more than 20 years.  He earned his Master of Business Administration

Matt Cowell
Matt Cowell

degree from William Woods, and for the last 12 years, he has served as an adjunct professor for WWU, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in the business department.

After teaching years of “theory” Cowell began developing a world-class training program titled “Executing in Leadership.”  It is his belief that this is the future of executive training.  His course takes management theories, simple processes and behaviors and incorporates them into a series of visual applications with step-by-step instruction allowing people to accomplish their goals.

In addition to his training and education background, Cowell has held various leadership positions in public and private organizations.

A total of 396 degrees will be conferred during the day. A combined total of 941 students in all disciplines have graduated from WWU in the past 12 months.

Degrees earned include two Associate of Arts, 24 Bachelor of Arts, two Bachelor of Fine Arts, 121 Bachelor of Science, 75 Master of Business Administration (MBA), 143 Master of Education (M.Ed.), 23 Education Specialist (Ed.S.) and three Doctor of Education degrees.

Graduate students from cohorts in 18 Missouri communities will receive their diplomas: Blue Springs, Caruthersville, Columbia, Duenweg, Festus, Florissant, Fulton, Hannibal, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Mountain Grove, Owensville, Rolla, Sedalia, Sikeston, Springfield, St. Joseph and Troy. In addition, a cohort from Cave City, Ark., will graduate.