Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Kentucky Education Cabinet Secretary Virginia G. Fox to Retire
Laura E. Owens named Education Secretary
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Education Cabinet Secretary Virginia G. Fox, 67, announced her retirement today. The resignation is effective Sept. 1, 2006.
In her letter to Governor Ernie Fletcher, Fox wrote, “I have been honored to serve as your Education Cabinet Secretary, and was distinctly pleased that you selected an Education Cabinet Secretary first. Time and time again, you have demonstrated your commitment to education, and specifically to accelerating student achievement. I will treasure the memories of working with you and the many dedicated agency heads in the Education Cabinet.”
“Ginni is an exceptional individual, and she has done a tremendous job helping me move Kentucky forward,” said Governor Fletcher. “Her tireless work has brought all of the Education Cabinet agencies much closer together, and the proof of her effort was visible in the successful 2006 General Assembly when many educational initiatives were approved. Her heart and soul are rooted in Kentucky education, and that passion has improved the lives of all Kentuckians. She will be deeply missed.”
Governor Fletcher announced that Deputy Secretary Laura E. Owens has been selected to replace Fox.
“In the past two-and-a-half years, Laura has served as the Commissioner of the Department for Workforce Investment, as well as the Deputy Secretary of the Education Cabinet since January,” said Governor Fletcher. “Her experience and commitment to accelerating student achievement makes her a logical choice for this very important position.”
Key educational investments approved by the 2006 General Assembly included more than $250 million in teacher pay, $47 million for pre-school, nearly $100 million for operating costs and new computer technology hardware, two additional instructional days to the school calendar, ACT testing for all high school juniors, and increased reading instruction for struggling readers through the Read To Achieve program, supported by Governor Fletcher and First Lady Glenna Fletcher.
“It is the right time for me to retire, actually for a second time,” said Fox. “In recent months, I have survived a real scare with cancer, but I am absolutely fine and require no additional medical care. My husband, Victor, and I have been married for 43 years, and it is time for both of us to relax, together,” she commented.
“But as I leave the Education Cabinet, Kentuckians deserve to know that there has never been a more exciting time for education than now. Our state’s educational leaders are all working together to achieve a seamless, coordinated approach to education,” she said. “In short, I leave the reins of our education agencies in very capable hands.”
Fox was named Education Cabinet secretary soon after Governor Fletcher’s election in the fall of 2003. She had previously retired from Kentucky Educational Television (KET) as executive director and CEO in 2002, following 34 years of service.
While at KET, she is credited with developing more programming hours than any other PBS affiliate in the nation. She was responsible for the creation of its G.E.D. program series, which is now available nationwide in its third version, and a major source of funding for KET’s Foundation. She shepherded KET into the digital age of broadcasting at a time when most PBS network affiliates were still using the analog format.
Fox has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2006 Winner’s Circle Award from the National Association of Women’s Business Owners; the Best of Kentucky 2006 Technology Leadership Award; the Ambassador Award, presented by the Kentucky World Language Association, 2005; the Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Kentucky Alumni Association, 2005; the Learning and Liberty Award, presented by the National School Public Relations Association, 2004; the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002; and the Vic Hellard, Jr., Award, presented by Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, 2002. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Kentucky State University (2004), Centre College (2003), Pikeville College (2002), and Morehead State University (1999). In 1995, Fox was named Appalachian Woman of the Year by Morehead State University.
Fox was born in Campbellsville, Ky., but grew up in Fleming County, Ky. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with distinction, from Morehead State University in 1961. She received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky in 1969. Prior to her public broadcasting career, Fox spent four years as an elementary school teacher and three years as an elementary school librarian.
Fox is married to attorney Victor (Vic) Fox. Together, they plan to live in Kentucky and Tucson, Ariz.
“It has been my pleasure to serve under Secretary Fox during the past two-and-a-half years,” said Laura E. Owens. “I am distinctly honored by the confidence that Governor Fletcher has placed in me. And I look forward to building on the sound foundation that Secretary Fox has established since December of 2003.”
Owens, a Frankfort resident, is a graduate of Western Kentucky University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in English and communication, and a master’s degree in communication. She has been involved in workforce training and teaching for more than 20 years. The native of Glasgow is married to Donnie Owens, principal of Elkhorn Elementary School in Frankfort. They have a daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law, and two young grandchildren.
The Kentucky Education Cabinet coordinates learning programs from P-16, and manages and supports training and employment functions in the Department for Workforce Investment. For more information about our programs, visit www.educationcabinet.ky.gov or www.workforce.ky.gov, or call 502-564-6606.
[Editor’s Note: Downloadable photographs of Secretary Fox and Deputy Secretary Owens are available at http://educationcabinet.ky.gov/aboutus/leadership.htm.]