St. Olaf College | News

Alumnus provides $2.5 million gift to support theater, off-campus studies

Steven Fox ’77 outside the St. Olaf Theater Building during this spring’s production of the Broadway musical “Big Fish.” Fox’s recent gift to the college will more than double current funding for student theater productions.

A $2.5 million gift from St. Olaf College alumnus Steven Fox ’77 will provide significant support for the theater program and students interested in studying abroad.

Fox’s gift will establish two endowed funds. The first fund of $500,000 will benefit the St. Olaf Theater Department. The second fund of $2 million will provide financial aid for students participating in international and off-campus studies programs.

The spendable income from each of the two endowments will be doubled each year through the Strategic Initiative Match (SIM), a St. Olaf Board of Regents program that provides matching funds for gifts above $50,000 that support the college’s strategic plan.

With those matching funds, the Steven Fox Fund for Theater will more than double current funding for student theater productions. It will be used to cover expenses related to lighting, sound, sets, costumes, props, and guest artists who serve as choreographers, designers, and dramaturges.

“This is an astounding gift,” says Professor of Theater Karen Peterson Wilson ’77. “The impact will directly affect St. Olaf students, faculty, staff, and the community long into the future. We are all profoundly grateful to Steven.”

The Steven Fox International Studies Fund will also have a significant — and direct — impact on students. With the matching SIM funds, the endowment will provide enough financial aid to fully support the international or off-campus studies of up to 55 students each year who may not otherwise be able to afford to participate in these life-changing programs.

“A gift of scholarship dollars is the single most valuable investment that can be made in our off-campus studies program,” says International and Off-Campus Studies Director Jodi Malmgren ’92.

She notes that Fox’s gift will help the college educate globally engaged students, maintain a high level of participation in off-campus study, and ensure equal participation by students of all financial need levels. More than two-thirds of all St. Olaf students study abroad before graduating, and the college regularly sends more students to study abroad each year than any other baccalaureate institution in the nation.

Last fall, Fox established two endowed chairs — the Patrick J. Quade Endowed Chair in Theater and the Robert Scholz Endowed Chair in Music — in honor of St. Olaf faculty members who devoted their careers to the college and made a positive impact on hundreds of students. Wilson is the first holder of the Quade Chair, and Associate Professor of Music Christopher Aspaas ’95 holds the Scholz Chair.