Walter T. Cox, Jr., native of Belton, South Carolina, came to Clemson University in 1935 as a freshman cadet. As a student, he was a company commander in the cadet Corps and an all-state guard on the football team. After graduating in 1939, he remained at the University for one year of post graduate study during which he anchored the Tigers front line that helped defeat Boston College in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. Except for military service in the South Pacific, he never left Clemson.
During the 1940's, he worked for Clemson Athletics in a number of capacities - Assistant Football Coach, Business Manager, Baseball Coach and Recruiter. He filled in for the Boxing Coach who was called into the military; helped cleat land with handsaws, chains and mules, for construction of the football stadium ("Death Valley"); and became a member of IPTAY. In 1950, he became Director of Public Relations and Alumni Affairs and Assistant to the President. He became Dean of Student Affairs in 1956 and Vice President for Student Affairs in 1965.
Dean Cox served as Vice President for Student Affairs for almost three decades. During his tenure, enrollment grew from 2,700 to more than 12,500. He presided over some of the most important milestones in Clemson's development into a major university including the enrollment of women and the peaceful desegregation of the student body. At the request of the Board of Trustees, he left the Student Affairs post in July 1985 to become Clemson's 10th President.