Gosh, This Family Is In Tune: The Story Behind a $20 Million Campus Music Gift

The University of Arizona recently announced a $20 million gift to its School of Music by Alan C. Fox, president of ACF Property Management, a real-estate investment company in Studio City, California, and his wife Daveen. A fifth of that money will be used to create three endowed chairs at the school, and $2 million will establish the Fox Scholarship Fund. The school will also be renamed the Fox School of Music.

This kind of huge gift in the realm of the arts isn't too common. Indeed, the gift by the Fox couple is the largest gift ever given to University of Arizona's College of Fine Arts. The previous high mark for an individual gift? Two gifts of just $3 million each. That's quite a difference and if you're picturing a couple with strong alumni ties to University of Arizona, you'd be wrong. Neither Fox nor his wife is an alum. How about a business or residence close to campus? Nope, the entire Fox family lives in Southern California. So what's the story here?

Well, let's start with Fox's father, Fred Fox, for whom the school of music will be renamed. The elder Fox is a legendary french horn player who's been involved in all things brass for most of his life. Fred Fox was born in Brooklyn, New York and after attending Juilliard, he performed as a solo horn player with the National Symphony, the Minneapolis Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at Paramount Studios, among others.

Fred Fox has also taught music at California State University, Northridge, University of Southern California, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. What's more, his 1974 book, Essentials of Brass Playing, is considered an authoritative source.

Oh, and there's at least one other place where Fox has taught—University of Arizona's School of Music—where he's worked with the Graduate Wind Quintet and gave lessons as recently as last fall. It's also worth noting that Fred Fox is 100 years old.

Besides the interesting tidbit of the younger Fox honoring his 100-year-old dad while he's still alive and kicking—and still apparently playing music, too—it also goes to show you just how strong the motivation is here. The Fox family has clearly been powerfully influenced by its musically gifted patriarch.

And if all this wasn't enough, one of Fred Fox's former music students is now an associate professor at the School of Music at UArizona. The two apparently kept in contact, and perhaps this professor made the initial pitch. (If only every college development office had a professor with ties to a family like the Foxes. Actually, come to think of it, many probably do if they pushed their faculty hard enough to mine their connections.)

There's one other component to this story, as well. Fox and Daveen run a very interesting foundation out of Los Angeles called the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation. It was founded in 1999 in the name of Fox's mother, Frieda (noticing a pattern here?!) who was a musician, artist and teacher, and the first in her family to go to college.

The Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation gives to a number of different outfits in Los Angeles, mainly in education, but a cornerstone of the foundation is its youth philanthropy program, which help kids, teens, college students and young adults learn about and be involved in philanthropy at foundations and nonprofits. When the foundation was still in its infancy, one of Fox's thirteen year old daughters was already involved.

Gosh, the Fox family sure is hitting all the right notes.