Gary Kraut (CGS’64, COM’66): Giving to Transformative Teaching
Gary Kraut (CGS’64, COM ‘66) describes himself as a “real rube” when he first arrived at Boston University. He didn’t love school, didn’t have any role models of people in college, and was still learning good study habits and how to live in a city. He would go on to travel across the world, found the investor relations firm G.A. Kraut Company Inc., and build a lifelong love of arts and the humanities. Looking back, he says CGS was a bridge to where he started and where he is today.
Kraut valued CGS’ combination of close-knit teams in a big, urban university: “There you were, 18 years old, living in a city, in a dormitory for the first time. The city itself was wide open.” But you also had a team of students to study with, the same people in your classes, and professors who were available to you. “You were joined each school day by people you got to know and teachers who were approachable, and that dynamic worked for me,” Kraut said.
In the 50 years since he attended, that’s still the CGS model. “It’s at the heart of why the school exists,” he said.
In college, Kraut became close with Professor Peyton Richter, whom he calls “just a wonderful human being,” and they stayed in touch. As the years went on, Kraut’s education shaped the way he ran his business. All of his employees were liberal arts graduates because he felt that business and Wall Street could be learned on the job but skills like critical thinking and writing were valuable, too.
In 1988, Kraut decided to give back to the school by endowing the Professors Fund. Each year, the fund awards the Peyton Richter Award to a CGS professor who excels in interdisciplinary teaching. Kraut says his donation grew out of gratitude that he was admitted to Boston University and because CGS was the bridge to his lifelong career in communications and investor relations.
The Peyton Richter Award gives professors both recognition and a financial award. “I thought maybe I could make life just a little bit better for one teacher a year,” he said. “It was enough to perhaps send a kid to camp, to take a trip, to pay a bill, and to be recognized.”
“Mr. Kraut’s generous donation has benefited many faculty over the years, myself included,” said Dean Natalie McKnight. “And every year it reminds all the faculty of the power of interdisciplinary teaching and the impact a professor can have on students. We are very grateful to Gary for his gift and his continuing support of the college.”
In 2018, the Peyton Richter Award went to Associate Professor of Humanities Meg Tyler. In her comments about Tyler, McKnight said, “Meg’s love of poetry, art, film and philosophy is transformative—it shapes her students into lovers of the humanities right along with her. She inspires them, and it is inspiring to watch that happen.”
Kraut’s education shaped him in a similar way. It gave him a lifelong interest in the arts and the humanities and what he calls “a great respect for context– in other words, not to look at things in isolation, to take a broader view.”
“It was eye-opening in that sense,” he said. “I’d like to believe I’ve had my eyes open through at least a reasonable portion of my life.”