This story originally appeared in the summer 2012 issue of The Spirit of Washington University.
St. Louis philanthropists Marilyn and Sam Fox, BU51, take great pleasure in setting examples of leadership and service in many organizations.
At Washington University—the place Sam Fox once said "opened the curtains on a world I didn't know existed"—the couple is focused on giving deserving students the opportunity of a lifetime while building educational excellence. To help attract the best and brightest students, Mr. and Mrs. Fox have made a $5 million commitment. The majority of the gift—$4.5 million—will establish the endowed Sam Fox Scholars Fund in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The remainder will provide a lectureship in that school as well as ongoing support for the John M. Olin School of Business.
Dedicated in 2006, the Sam Fox School comprises the College of Art, Graduate School of Art, College of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, and Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
The contribution to scholarships is unprecedented for the Sam Fox School, bringing it closer to its $10 million fundraising goal as part of Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University.
"Marilyn and Sam Fox are two of Washington University's most ardent supporters," Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton says. "It is impossible to estimate the true, long-lasting impact of the Sam Fox Scholars Fund, but each student who comes to the Sam Fox School to study will go out into the world with a singular ability to shape society. Here, students are offered a special combination of great teachers, artists, designers, and architects; rigorous study and practice; and immersion in a diverse, global community that will prepare them well for future success."
Currently, more than 50 percent of undergraduate students and 97 percent of graduate students in the Sam Fox School receive financial aid.
"Scholarships have never been more important to higher education," says Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts. "Marilyn and Sam Fox's extraordinarily generous gift will have a profound impact, allowing talented and creative students to pursue their ambitions of obtaining a world-class art, architecture, and design education in an engaging and collaborative environment."
While the Foxes have been supporting a variety of university programs for more than 30 years, their recent gifts have exceeded $10 million, bringing their total gifts, pledges, and commitments to more than $22 million.
Mr. Fox is founder and chairman of Harbour Group, a privately owned company that specializes in the acquisition and development of manufacturing companies for long-term investment. He has been a loyal adviser to Washington University for many years. Elected to the university's Board of Trustees in 1989, he served as vice chair from 1999 to 2001. In 2004, the board unanimously elected him a lifetime voting member. He also serves on the board’s 13-member Executive Committee.
Mr. Fox served as the U.S. ambassador to Belgium under President George W. Bush and has received many honors. They include the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; the Marco Polo Award, the highest award given to foreign business leaders by the Republic of China; and the St. Louis Citizen of the Year Award from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and past award recipients.
Mrs. Fox became the first female president in the history of the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis when she was elected to that post in 1992. Her board memberships have included the Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis Variety Club, Webster University, Girl Scouts, Jewish Federation of St. Louis, United Way of Greater St. Louis, and National Council of Community and Justice. She twice has chaired the Old Newsboys' Children's Charity. Among her many awards are the St. Louis Woman of Achievement, the St. Louis Variety Woman of the Year, the Wetterau Old Newsboys Day Lifetime Achievement Award, and the National Council of Community and Justice Brotherhood Sisterhood Award.
In recognition of the couple's commitment to improving the quality of life in their communities, Saint Louis University awarded Mr. and Mrs. Fox honorary degrees in public service in 2000. The Foxes also have shared the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award and the Arts & Education Council's Excellence in Philanthropy Award.