Len Fox PhD in Information Technology
Len Fox has taken the concept of life-long learning to heart.
At age 74, Fox is about to finish a PhD in Information Technology at Capella University.
Now a resident of Key Largo, Florida, where he lives with his wife, Fox spent most of his career working at IBM. “My background is in analytics and statistics,” he says. He earned his undergraduate degree from a technical school, with a brief hiatus to serve in the army during the Vietnam War, and then went on to get a master’s degree in 1973.
But as Fox neared retirement, he began to think about how he wanted to spend his golden years. Sport fishing was his main hobby, and he definitely planned to spend many hours out on the ocean with some lines in the water. But he also liked the idea of teaching part-time and perhaps writing books or essays about IT. A PhD, he felt, was the degree he needed to make that dream a reality.
Looking at his options, Fox wanted a university that was respected but also allowed him to earn his degree without spending long hours commuting to classes. “The online aspect of education was very important to me,” he says. “It’s very hard to work and physically attend college—especially where I live.”
Fox enrolled in Capella’s PhD in Information Technology program and found it was a good fit. “What I liked was that the learning had to be done on my own. It wasn’t dictated to me,” he says. “I had to figure it out from the beginning. It wasn’t by rote.”
“That doesn’t mean working on a PhD was easy, however,” he says. “I didn’t realize how much time it would take.”
Finding time to study proved particularly challenging while Fox was still working full time. (He retired in 2017.) “I got up with the chickens,” he jokes, rising at 4 a.m. and doing classwork until 7 a.m. each morning. But his work life also provided plenty of experiences he could incorporate into his assignments—a direction that his Capella instructors actively encouraged.
What kept Fox motivated even when things got challenging? A sense of achievement. “I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to do it,” he says. “Many times, I felt like not wanting to do anything. But if you’re going to do something, you need to focus on it, and complete it. I’m a completist. I wanted to get and be recognized as a PhD.”
Nearly everyone in Fox’s life has been impressed that he would pursue such a challenge while others his age are honing their golf game or booking cruises. “Overall there’s been a very positive reception,” he says, adding with a laugh, “though I’m pretty sure there are a few people in my family who will never get used to calling me ‘doctor.’”
Find out more about Capella’s PhD in Information Technology.