Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

March 8, 2006:

Fred Fox ’39

Fred Fox ’39 began a tradition of funding student projects through his class’s coffers. (courtesy Donald H. Fox)

Keeping Fred Fox ’39 alive through giving

FRED FOX FUND: As official “keeper of Princetoniana,” Fred Fox ’39 devoted himself to carrying on the traditions of the university he loved. But since Fox’s death 25 years ago, a tradition started by Fox has itself become entwined with Princeton’s past and future.

Fox, the University’s former recording secretary — and No. 1 cheerleader — who died in 1981 at age 63, was passionate about Princeton’s philosophy of service. In 1965, a year after he became secretary of the Class of 1939, Fox began occasionally withdrawing money from ’39’s coffers to give students modest funding for projects that fell outside established channels. After Fox’s death, the withdrawals from the fund were continued in his memory and formally established by his classmates as the Fred Fox Fund.

This year, the fund is celebrating its 25th year. According to Charles P. Dennison ’39, the catalyst for continuing what Fox had started and the fund’s administrator from 1983 until 1999, the first grant was made in 1981 to Y. Ping Sun ’85, who received $3,000 to be tutored in math and English after her arrival from China. During 2004–05, grants totaling $39,000 were made to 54 undergraduates. The fund’s endowment is about $800,000.

Grants, today ranging from $300 to $900, have been given for intensive language study, thesis research, and other independent academic work. Applicants must have a personal interview and be endorsed by a faculty member.

Members of the Class of 1939 recognized that a younger class would have to manage the fund as their numbers diminished. They chose the Class of 1978 — twice ’39, and the last class to have spent all four years at Princeton under Fox. After lobbying hard for the privilege, ’78ers assumed the reins of the fund in 1999.

“While it’s difficult for us to interview and select applicants at this busy time in our lives, the personal contact with students is great,” said Karen Ali ’78, current Fox Fund administrator. “They continually impress us.”

By F.H.