In January 1934, Hamilton Holt, who served as Rollins’ president from 1925 to 1949, acquired statues of a fox and a cat from Senator Murray Sams. These statues permanently stood on the walkway of Rec Hall—a structure the pool replaced.
Inspired by the two statues, Holt founded a “Cat Society” for women and a “Fox Society” for men. According to the Rollins Archives, these societies were exclusive groups made up of four women and four men each, elected by an annual vote of the student body. The women elected the foxes; the men elected the cats.
These privileged members were the only people permitted to touch the statues. But occasionally, the fox and cat were taken and hidden as practical jokes. The year 1949 was tragic because the cat statue was smashed beyond repair. To this day, the crime remains unsolved.
On May 17, 1956, President Hugh McKean (1951-1969) started Fox Day. The grief-stricken, lonely fox was placed on the horseshoe, and the day’s classes were canceled. After a brief assembly, activities began at 5:30 a.m. with a treasure hunt, and ended with a square dance and a picnic in the evening.
The students enjoyed the tradition so well that in 1958, when President McKean discarded it, they resurrected Fox Day themselves. This initiated an agreement between the students and McKean, who granted them freedom for the day on the condition that they return in the evening for a picnic and a choir performance in the Knowles Chapel.
When President Jack Critchfield (1969-1978) came to Rollins, he discontinued the tradition due to the turbulence of the sixties. The fox was given back to McKean, and the welfare of Rollins, its presidents and its traditions.
Perhaps hoping to revive the tradition, seven students decided to create their own statue of a fox. They then placed their creation on Mills Lawn in the early morning hours of May 3, 1976, thus creating their own--albeit fake--version of Fox Day.
The savvy fox found his way back to campus in 1979, during Thaddeus Seymour’s administration (1978-1990). Seymour said, “When I was president of Wabash College in Indiana, we had a similar day called ‘Elmore Day.’ It was very natural to me, and I believe any sensible college should have a day like this.” So the popular Fox Day was reinstated and continues today.
Though lacking a square dance and evening sing-a-long, Fox Day as it exists today still brings the Rollins community together to do something “as a college.” This Fox Day, you can expect free entertainment, snacks, and refreshment all day long.