In Person Lecture - A Conversation with Ed Cox and Basil Smikle Jr., ILR '93

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Event Time:
6:00 pm

Club Programs

Join us at The Cornell Club for a discussion with Ed Cox, former chairman of the New York Republican Committee and Dr. Basil Smikle Jr., former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party. They will discuss their Cornell experiences, what attracted them to public service, their proudest professional moments, their favorite essay from the Federalist Papers, their work together, and advice to those considering a role in politics and public service. This event will be live streamed for those unable to make the event in person.

Edward F. Cox
is an American corporate and finance lawyer and the former chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, and has a record of public service in New York and nationally. He has served four Presidents, four New York governors and the Republican Party at the state and national levels.

Cox started his legal career at Cravath Swaine & Moore, and after serving in the Reagan Administration, was a corporate partner in the Donovan Leisure firm.  He subsequently was a member of the management committee and Chairman of the Corporate Department at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.   

Cox began his political activity in 1968 with the Nixon presidential campaign and has since participated in most of the subsequent presidential campaigns to date.  He was Chairman of the New York Republican Party from 2009 to 2019 when he joined the 2020 Trump Victory/RNC team.  

As a Trustee of the State University of New York (SUNY) from 1995 to 2009, he developed policies and programs for SUNY's community colleges, charter schools, teacher training, facilities construction and finance and administration. 

In K-12 education, Cox is a former chairman and has been a director of Student Sponsor Partners, which supports and mentors parochial high school students, since 1985.  In 1999, Cox founded SUNY's Charter School Institute and subsequently lead SUNY's authorization of fifty charter schools.  For more than fifteen years he has been a director of the New York Institute for Special Education which has been a leading school for the blind since the 1830's. As Chairman of the NYGOP he initiated an effort for New York to adopt an education tax credit. 

In positions both in and out of government he has been a leader in the energy and environmental arenas serving President Reagan as General Counsel of the Synthetic Fuels Corporation and serving for 14 years as Chairman of New York's Council of Parks; for more than 15 years as Chairman of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; and for 35 years as a director of Noble Energy, an NYSE oil and gas exploration and production company.  

His writings on public policy have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Antitrust Law Journal and the New York Post.  

Cox was born in Suffolk County, Long Island and was raised in Yorkville, New York City, where he graduated from Trinity High School.  He received his B.A. degree in 1968 from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  After attempting a career in architecture at Yale in 1968 and 1969, he earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1972. Ed and Tricia Nixon met as high school students in New York and were married In the Rose Garden of the White House in 1971.  

Basil Smikle Jr. (ILR '93) is a Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.  He also lectures at Columbia University in the School of International and Public Affairs and Teachers College. Basil regularly shares insights on electoral politics, governance, and public policy on national media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg TV.  He holds a PhD in Politics and Education and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.  

In his political life, Basil was appointed by former Governor Paterson to be Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party where he was the "second highest ranking Democrat" in the State and subsequently received awards from the Governor and Comptroller of New York State for his commitment to public service and education equity. 

Early in his career, Basil was a senior aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton on her Senate staff where he advised Senator Clinton on state-wide policy and politics. His work and collaboration had a substantial impact on the State of New York. Mrs. Clinton called Basil a "key advisor and tremendous public servant...who makes sure all voices are heard".

As a member of 100 Black Men of New York with whom he worked to start the Eagle Academy in the Bronx which has grown to 6 middle and high schools in New York and New Jersey. He is also a founding Board Member of the Harlem Hebrew Academy Charter School and sits on the boards of the NYC Center for Charter Excellence and The Association to Benefit Children.  

6:00pm in person lecture, gratis. Advanced registrations required. The lecture will be livestreamed for members unable to attend the event in person but will not be recorded. This event is held under the Chatham House Rule.