How Fox Day Began

Students gather on May 17, 1956 to hear President McKean announce Fox Day.Fox Day is one result of students telling me they wanted "to do something as a college." I thought they had a point. Living in a nice little community dedicated to learning is an important part of a Rollins education. But it is not easy to plan something hundreds of young people will enjoy doing together.

As I thought the matter over, my mind kept returning to a 19th Century garden figure, a fox, that had at one time been on the campus. Originally there was a cat as well. When vandals destroyed the cat, I put the fox in storage.

I have always liked foxes. When I was a small boy, my father often drove our family through the western Pennsylvania hills in his red E.M.F. (the headlights and the coach lights on the side burned acetylene gas). When the evening mists rose in the valleys, he would say, "the foxes are cooking their supper." Foxes to me have always suggested a family gathering.

One day in the spring of 1956, I put the Fox out on the Horseshoe, canceled all classes, and invited everyone to spend the day "doing things as a college." At the end of the day, many students had a new and warm feeling for their college.

That is why and how Fox Day began. The excerpts from a chronology prepared by Evelyn Draper in 1969 give some idea of how and why the day changed in character.

I began writing proclamations in 1963, after it had become clear many students would rather go to the Pelican (the beach house the college had in those years), than play baseball, hunt treasures, and square dance on the campus. I did want everyone back by dinner time and I wanted the whole college to hear its own choir in beautiful Knowles Memorial Chapel. The proclamations refer to events of the year, and I did use the last one to say good-bye to the college, but they were essentially attempts to get the peripatetic members of my family back on campus by dinner time.

I am putting the proclamations together at the gentle insistence of my darling wife who thinks some alumni might like to see them again. I realize that if they are read by anyone who knows little about Rollins College, he or she may think they sound rather unacademic.

Perhaps I should add that we Rollins Alumni consider campus life a valued part of the college years; that the proclamations were written for a purpose, not to be read years later; that since its founding as a coeducational institution of higher learning more that a hundred years ago, Rollins itself has a long tradition of doing things its own way; and that the education I received from Rollins College has been a welcome influence every day of my life.

-Hugh F. McKean