Dr. Morgan S. and Betty Jane Phenix
Written or last revised on May 9, 2008
In 2007, Dr. Morgan S. and Betty Jane Phenix contributed $35,000 to the Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) Educational Foundation Inc. to establish the Dr. Philip and Gena Phenix Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Dr. Phenix explained that his parents, after whom the scholarship is named, were firm believers in the importance of higher education. His father, Philip, taught philosophy and religion at Columbia University, and his mother, Gena, taught music at Barnard College.
“My parents were very generous,” Dr. Phenix said. “They were not wealthy at all, but they were generous with what they did have.”
Dr. Phenix received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University Teachers College. Throughout his career, he has held a number of teaching positions. Dr. Phenix is currently the dean of humanities at LFCC.
The Phenix family moved to Page County in 1992 in order to be closer to his parents. Mrs. Phenix, a home health care assistant, cared for them in the family’s home during the last few years of their lives.
Dr. Phenix said his parents provided for the higher education of his two daughters, and he and his wife decided that they wanted to continue the legacy of generosity.
“We knew we wanted to establish a scholarship, and we felt that anything they left should be dedicated to college students,” Dr. Phenix said. “I felt it should be in their name, because it was their generosity that made it possible.”
Dr. Phenix was appointed to the LFCC Board in 2000 and was very interested in being involved with a community college, something he initially did not know much about.
“I didn’t realize at the time how important the impact of LFCC could be on our students,” Dr. Phenix said, explaining that previously the closest community college for Page County residents was 50 miles away. “The new Luray-Page County Center was a huge step forward for our kids.”
Just a few years ago, Dr. Phenix said, college attendance was not being considered by many Page County High School students. This year, about 70 percent of graduating seniors have indicated they plan to pursue higher education, up from 52 percent last year and just 19 percent in 1996. Scholarship funds like the one the Phenixes established help the growing number of LFCC students reach their goals.
The Phenixes do not feel they deserve praise for their contribution. They always knew that any money left by his parents would be used to support higher education, and LFCC was an ideal candidate.
“LFCC is right in our own backyard, and it’s a very accessible, friendly and accepting institution,” Dr. Phenix said. “It has meant the world to our graduates.”