Interdisciplinary Support

7 February 2017
Cathy James Paglia

It’s a testament to Carleton’s liberal arts mission that two of the most generous alumni donors to science education are an English major and a history major.

“I don’t think I ever took any science,” admits Cathy James Paglia ’74, P’18, the English major, who with husband Louis Paglia and the Robert and Ardis James Foundation established a $20 million matching fund for the new science facility.

“Maybe I’m compensating for not having paid closer attention in Bio,” jokes Leslie Kautz ’80, P’15, the history major, who with the Kautz Family Foundation has pledged $3 million to Carleton, including $2 million for science.

Both women talk about the spirit of academic exploration and the essential—and energizing—cross-pollination of ideas unique to studying STEM subjects at a liberal arts college.

Leslie Kautz

“The difference between history and biology—or any other department—is the toolset, and when disciplines cross-fertilize, the results are even more astonishing,” Kautz says.

“Carleton encourages delving into subjects a student may not have considered before,” Paglia says. “They may come in with a specific major in mind—but then they have a great professor for intro biology, and a career and passion is born. At Carleton, they can try it all out.”

Paglia served on Carleton’s Board of Trustees from 1984 to 2016, including leadership roles on several board committees. She also was a member of the steering committee for the college’s successful $300 million Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections fundraising campaign, completed in 2010. So she has an insider’s view of how critical it is to invest in Carleton’s future science facilities.

“For us to continue to have the best faculty teaching our students, we need to provide excellent teaching and lab spaces,” Paglia says. “Science has changed. The way we teach has changed. Yet our facilities haven’t. We’ve made them work—but we need more flexible, interdisciplinary spaces.”

Paglia calls out computer science as a notable example. “It wasn’t even a major at Carleton yet when Olin and Mudd were built. Yet the interaction between every one of the sciences and computer science is incredible.”

Kautz concurs. “Today’s toolset for Carleton’s scientists requires a modern space [and] a collaborative setting. Deep threads connect these disparate pursuits.”

Kautz knows a little something about disparate pursuits. After graduation, she worked for a member of Congress, grew fascinated by public policy, earned a master’s degree in public policy, and worked in the executive branch for five years. She later moved to Los Angeles and joined the private sector, making the transition to investment consulting as co-founder of Angeles Investment Advisors LLC.

In addition to her generous science donation, Kautz has given $750,000 to establish the Kautz Family Endowed Scholarship to assist students with financial needs, with preference for first-generation college students. She has also served on Carleton’s Board of Trustees.

“Carleton provided the intellectual foundation of my life, as well as deep ties to friends and people I admire. I believe in the value of a liberal arts education, and giving to Carleton is a natural way to express that,” she says.

Paglia hopes her $20 million matching fund for the new science facility will inspire other alumni. “They can make a gift that will transform how an education is delivered to a student 20 years from now,” Paglia says.