The William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor, the Search Award, is presented to outstanding citizens of the University community in appreciation for their contributions to Washington University. It was awarded to John McDonnell and Sam Fox at the 38th annual Eliot Society dinner held April 13 at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton. Both men received a silver replica of The Search, a sculpture designed by emeritus art professor Heikki Seppa.
During the presentation, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said: “It is an honor to present the 2005 Eliot Society Search Award to two individuals who have given so much of themselves to Washington University. Both John and Sam raised our aspirations for what we would be able to accomplish in the campaign. They brought to their leadership positions a rare combination of pragmatism and optimism that inspired our other dedicated volunteers and energized our administrators and staff.”
McDonnell served as chairman of the leadership phase of the Campaign for Washington University, and Fox chaired the public phase. When the campaign ended June 30, 2004, it had received $1,551,350,170, well beyond the stated goals.
Wrighton noted that this devotion, confidence and hard work are typical of both Fox and McDonnell and that “…their service to Washington University goes far beyond the campaign.”
Indeed, both Fox and McDonnell have substantial tenure in leadership positions, including many years of service on the Board of Trustees and national councils. Both have not only contributed significantly to specific University projects, but also have been effective in inspiring fund raising for many other projects. Both have made generous leadership gifts to the campaign.
McDonnell is the retired chairman of the Board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and currently is a director of The Boeing Company and Zoltek Companies, Inc. He was at the helm of McDonnell Douglas during the merger with Boeing that created the nation’s largest aerospace company. He is a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In 2004 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Now a Life Trustee, McDonnell joined Washington University’s Board of Trustees in 1976 and served as chairman from 1999 to 2004; currently he serves as vice chairman. He and his wife, Anne, are Life Danforth Circle members of the Eliot Society.
Other significant Washington University leadership positions include serving as a member of the Arts & Sciences National Council; helping to found and serving as a member of the International Advisory Council for Asia; serving on the Capital Resources Committee for the Alliance Campaign; and working on Arts & Sciences’ capital campaign to construct James S. McDonnell Hall.
A major advocate for science education and research, McDonnell is a board member of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and co-chairman of the committee on capital formation for the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences. His passion extends also to the St. Louis Science Center, where he is a Life Trustee and past chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
Fox, a graduate of the Olin School of Business in 1951, is chairman and chief executive officer of Harbour Group Ltd., the privately held operating company he founded in 1976. Harbour has enjoyed tremendous success, and now has more than 10,000 employees worldwide.
A native Missourian, he came to St. Louis in 1947 to attend Washington University and stayed. Like his fellow honoree, Fox has helped guide the University as a member of the Board of Trustees for many years. Formerly a vice chairman and currently a Life Trustee, he has been actively involved in his alma mater in many leadership roles, among them: serving on the University’s Development Committee to recommend a capital campaign; heading up the Eliot Society; and serving as a member of the Olin School of Business National Council. Fox and his wife, Marilyn, are Life Danforth Circle members.
He also gives generously of his time and talents to the St. Louis region. He has been president of the Board of Commissioners of the Saint Louis Art Museum and president of the Greater St. Louis Council of Boy Scouts of America, and has served key leadership roles in many other St. Louis organizations. In 2003 he served as chair of the St. Louis United Way campaign and was named St. Louis’ Citizen of the Year by a committee made up of prior award recipients. In 2002, Washington University awarded him with an honorary doctor of laws degree
Ground was broken last year on two buildings that will be part of a new school being named in honor of Fox’s many contributions to Washington University. The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will include the School of Art, the School of Architecture, and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, all of which will work closely with the Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Information Center and the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences. The school will strengthen the University’s focus on design and arts. It is scheduled for completion next year.
“Matching the University’s lofty ambitions with these two leaders was the secret to our campaign’s success,” Wrighton acknowledged. “They have served as an inspiration to thousands of dedicated volunteers, staff and donors. We could not have accomplished the meeting of our goals without John and Sam at the helm,” he added.
“Both men epitomize the drive to serve society and work for the greater good,” noted Wrighton. “Their collective contributions are incalculable to Washington University, and we will be mindful of them for generations to come.”
The Eliot Society was founded in 1959. Its 4,500 members are alumni, parents and friends who provide unrestricted support to the University.