March 1, 2019



Nurmi selected as 2019 Cox Fellow for MSUB



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Dr. Tom Nurmi, assistant professor of English at MSU Billings, was recently selected as the 2019 Winston and Helen Cox Fellowship Award recipient. He was recognized during the annual Faculty Excellence Awards celebration held on Feb. 21 on the MSUB campus.


Dick Cox and Tom Nurmi
The Winston and Helen Cox Fellowship Award recognizes outstanding junior faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences who show exceptional promise as teachers, scholars, and institutional leaders.


In 1986, the three Cox siblings, Richard, Leslie, and Sherry Faye, crafted a foundation within the Montana Community Foundation to honor their parents, Winston and Helen Cox. As Winston was the son of teachers and became a dedicated country school teacher in his early days, the Cox siblings decided to honor the teaching profession through the creation of the Winston and Helen Cox Fellowship.

Nominees for this honor are evaluated on quality of teaching, scholarly and professional activity, as well as campus and community service. The prestigious fellowship awards $3,000 to the recipient and $500 in support of the recipient’s academic program.


“This has been a successful program, which has been a delight for our family to support since the first award to Dr. Rachel Shaffer in 1989,” shared Richard Cox. Thirty-five faculty members at MSU Billings have been named Cox Fellowship recipients since the award’s inception.


Nurmi began teaching at MSUB in 2014, and has since developed into an established literary scholar and teacher. His passion for students and literature has driven him to create several literary engagement opportunities through the NEA Big Read and student field trips to the Yellowstone Art Museum. He centers his instruction around the real-world value of literature in today’s society, focusing on how environmental and technological changes are reflected in literary expression. He has also conducted public lectures on and off campus and has served on several advisory boards, including the Montana Center for the Book.


Nurmi’s research explores how physical, social, and legal geographies shaped early American literary history. His work has led to two book projects and a number of articles, opening even more doors of public engagement. His dedication and efforts in service, research, and education have each played a major role in his selection for this award.


During the Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony, the Cox family was honored for their many years of service to the university and its faculty. Through the funding of this award, as well as the Walter and Charlotte Pippenger Excellence in Innovation Award, the Cox family has rewarded many MSUB faculty for their excellence in teaching and service.


The Cox Family Dick Cox