Betsy Bacon Fox

Happy accidents keep Kenyon in Betsy Bacon Fox's life

Elizabeth Bacon Fox '83 represents the adage, succinctly put by John Lennon, that "life is what happens while you're making other plans."

For example, Fox didn't consider applying to Kenyon when she was shopping for colleges in 1978 and 1979. A Granville, Ohio, resident, she planned to attend college out of state. But her mother, Irene Bacon, attended the first Kenyon Festival Theater play, produced by actor Paul Newman '49, and she was impressed by the beauty of the campus. Fox agreed to have a look, and she arrived one day without an appointment in the admissions office, in the middle of January.

"As Mom said, it was beautiful--even under three feet of snow," says Fox. Coincidentally, her campus tour was conducted by Hilary Sparks-Roberts '82, a childhood friend of Fox who was a neighbor of the Bacons when they lived in the Cleveland, Ohio, suburbs. Suddenly for Fox, Kenyon felt like the right place to be.

An English major, Fox spent her junior year in England enrolled in the College's program at the University of Exeter. The next year, immediately after her graduation, she married Michael T. Fox, who had begun his college career at Kenyon in the Class of 1983 before transferring to Ohio State University during his sophomore year. The newlyweds settled in Columbus.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do," says Fox. "I took a job as an assistant manager of a Pizza Hut, and I hated every minute of it." Fox decided on a career as an English teacher, enrolling at Ohio State in 1986 in the graduate program in secondary education. However, before she could complete the program, the Foxes' daughter Victoria was born. This bit of "life happening" suggested it was time to make a new plan.

That plan would come to include identical twins, Grace and Melissa, born in 1990. With three children under the age of three, Fox was not concentrating on her next career move. She didn't dream that Kenyon would again figure prominently in her life.

Meanwhile, husband Mike, a self-taught computer guru, was working at Ohio State in the College of Nursing as a programmer/analyst. When an opening at Kenyon became available, he applied for and won a position as assistant director of academic computing. After a year of commuting from Columbus, the Foxes moved to Mount Vernon.

"The first year was pretty terrible," recalls Betsy Fox. "I was home with the three babies, and I didn't know anyone. It was very lonely." Soon, however, she joined the Community Choir and took a part-time job in Kenyon's Information and Computing Services (ICS) as a receptionist. "About that time," she says, "ICS took over responsibility for the telephone billing, and that job was assigned to me."

As the College began making plans for a new telephone system and hiring a telecommunications coordinator, Fox expressed her interest in the position. "I had no background or training in this," she says, "but I believed what I was told when I was a Kenyon student--that a liberal-arts education is valuable precisely because it enables you to do any number of things. I'm glad Kenyon-the-employer found that to be true."

Now, in addition to billing, Fox manages the voice-mail operation for the campus, coordinates new installations, handles location or number changes, system problems, and repairs, and administers the student's long-distance system, which is new this year. "The new long-distance system for students has been a great success," says Fox. "We have more student involvement than with the previous system, and, miraculously, no one iscomplaining. Everyone seems happy."

Recently, Fox underwent training in microcomputer operating-system support. She hopes to add new-user training, systems setup, and problem resolution to her growing list of information and computing skills.

While Fox didn't plan for her Kenyon education to be put to use at the College (she says her Kenyon friends thought she'd be farming, possibly because "Betsy Bacon" has such a nice rural ring), she is certainly happy it has turned out that way. Like many of us, Fox has found that sometimes the things that just happen are as rewarding as those that are planned.


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