After Wagner Trustee Donald M. Fox ’64 died in July 2013, his son Alex agreed to serve out the remainder of his term, until 2016.
Now, Alex is a member in his own right, and his brother, Graham, has joined the board as well. Both have enthusiastically stepped into the vital role their father played at Wagner College for so many years, not only in service but also in generous and creative giving.
Donald Fox and his wife, Williamina Pollock Fox ’66, raised their sons to value education — a value their father learned at Wagner College, which transformed his life and his outlook, says Alex.
“He was a first-generation college student,” Alex recalls about his father, the son of German immigrants. “Wagner set his foundation academically so he could excel. He was an indifferent student in high school, but his undergraduate student experience changed him.”
Donald Fox went to Wagner on a soccer scholarship, but he soon became inspired to achieve more. To improve his writing skills, he joined the Wagnerian student newspaper staff. A fellow history major, Donald Savage ’64, got Fox involved in student government, and as seniors they served as president and vice president respectively.
Fox went on to study at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1985, he founded the H. S. Fox Corporation in Dallas and grew it into the largest reinsurance brokerage of its kind in Texas.
Fox served twice on the Board of Trustees, 1985–94 and 2004–13. During his second term, he established funds for supporting the College, its students, and its faculty, that are still in place.
The Fox Family Fund for the Advancement of Civic Engagement Scholarship makes modest grants to faculty for service-research projects.
“The Fox Fellows shows the impact my dad wanted to have on faculty and students and the world,” says Graham. “He conceived of it like a seed grant that would allow faculty to pursue an interest that they could build upon and also impact the world.”
Fox Family grants have gone to projects ranging from environmental health studies in Bangladesh to the Global Leadership Garden at Wagner.
During the economic recession that began in 2008, Don Fox challenged his fellow board members to give additional support for students who were struggling financially. That program provided 10 Fox Scholars with $5,000 scholarships for three years.
Alex and Graham have continued to build the Fox Family Fund and have endowed the emergency assistance fund, creating a perpetual source of support for students experiencing financial challenges.
Recently, they have helped the College with facilities maintenance as well, funding bathroom renovations in Harborview Hall.
“It’s home to most of the freshmen, and that’s the first face parents see when students come on campus, and we’ve got to do better,” says Graham. “To take part in that solution would have given my dad a ton of pride. He didn’t want his name on a building, that’s not what he was about. He would be pleased that we can take some funds and feed a lot of smaller projects, tapping into the educational experience and the student experience and the faculty and their projects. It’s pretty cool to do that through Wagner.”
Alex says that he has greatly enjoyed his board service, especially meeting the students and hearing about their achievements. “What I really enjoy is that the school is equipping students for the 21st century and transforming their lives through education,” he says. “It’s making a difference.”