Dayton Cole named interim general counsel for Campbell University

Dayton Cole, who served as general counsel and chief legal officer for Appalachian State University for over 30 years, has been named interim general counsel for Campbell University, President J. Bradley Creed announced this week.

Bob Cogswell, who has served in this capacity at Campbell for nearly 20 years, will assume the role of associate general counsel. The moves come as the University seeks to expand its professional staff and streamline processes and services.

“Campbell is a comprehensive and complex University, with multifaceted levels of legal needs, compliance assurance, and risk mitigation,” Creed said of the move. “Since the early 1990s, the General Counsel’s Office has been staffed by one attorney. When compared to other schools of similar size and complexity, our Counsel’s Office is understaffed. Bringing Mr. Cole aboard as interim general counsel is the first phase of changing both the structure and function of the General Counsel’s Office.”

Cole is a seasoned attorney who served under five chancellors and numerous trustees while at Appalachian State. Throughout his legal career, his general practice encompassed a wide range of legal matters, with emphasis on client counseling, research, writing, policy development, and coordination of litigation efforts with North Carolina Department of Justice attorneys.

“Campbell University has a rich history of preparing students for careers and for life,” Cole said. “Campbell’s mission of preparing students for ‘purposeful lives and meaningful service’ resonates with me. I’m excited about the opportunity to join President Creed’s team and support faculty, staff and administrative leaders in fulfillment of that mission.”

He is the author of The Legal Handbook for North Carolina Teachers, which was published in 2007 by Omni Publishers, Inc. and used on multiple occasions in the Law Institute for Teachers conducted by the Education Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. Cole was appointed to serve as Appalachian’s ethics liaison to the North Carolina State Ethics Commission and served in that role for 12 years. He served as a member of the Board of Directors (1998-2001) and as treasurer (2002-2005) of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and as a member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association (2005-2008).

Cole retired in 2018, and the following year he received life membership from the National Association of College and University Attorneys. The award is “granted after an individual’s retirement from the regular practice of higher education law (or similar end of regular representative status), in recognition of outstanding service and substantial contributions to the Association.”

A graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos who earned his juris doctorate from the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Cole’s career in higher education began at his alma mater in 1982 when he served as assistant university attorney and students’ legal advisor at Texas State. He became the university attorney at Texas A&M-Commerce from 1984 to 1988 before moving to Boone, North Carolina, to serve as Appalachian’s university attorney. 

Throughout his career, Cole has worked to prevent and resolve disputes in such diverse matters as constitutional law; employment; workers compensation; civil rights; real estate; intellectual property; tort claims; contracts for purchases of goods and services, as well as delivery of services; regulatory compliance; administrative law; entertainment; governance; public records and open meetings; law enforcement; tax-exempt financing of capital projects; construction; charitable gifts and trust administration; public utilities; taxation and creation and management of non-profit corporations. 

In 2015, Cole was one of four recipients of the W.H. Plemmons Medallion, awarded by Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees in recognition of “meritorious leadership that has significantly enriched the quality of student life and learning outside of the classroom.” According to Appalachian Today Magazine, Cole was praised for “guiding the university through an increasingly complex landscape in a calm reflective manner [and] bringing unquestioned integrity to his work.”

Since his retirement, Cole has remained in private practice, focusing on research and advice on higher education governance and finance matters, labor and employment matters, contracts and merger of two non-profit corporations. When not working or engaged in service activities, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Cathy, their five adult children, their spouses and eight grandchildren.

Bob Cogswell has led Campbell University’s General Counsel Office for over 20 years, serving under three presidents and seeing the University through enormous growth and expansion during that time. 

A native of Tampa, Florida, Cogswell earned his law degree in 1970 from Florida State University. He moved to North Carolina while in the Air Force after he was assigned to Pope Air Force Base. He served as city attorney for the City of Fayetteville from 1978 until 2001. He and his wife, Joy, are the parents of a daughter, Katheryne, and they have one granddaughter, Paige. 

“I am grateful for the important services Mr. Cogswell has rendered as counsel, and along the way as human resources director and Title IX coordinator,” President Creed said. “I am confident Bob will continue to make a meaningful contribution to the University as he manages a portion of Campbell’s legal portfolio.”