July 11, 2012
Q & A With Campaign Vice Chair Peter McCausland
Campaign Vice Chair Peter McCausland, ’71, history, has achieved remarkable success as an industrialist and philanthropist par excellence. His gifts to Carolina have advanced scientific discovery and achieved success in bringing the University top-tier liberal arts faculty. He is one of the Carolina’s Promise Campaign Committee’s seven vice chairs.
In 1982 McCausland founded Radnor, Pa.-based Airgas Inc., the nation’s largest distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases. As chairman and CEO, he has led 400 acquisitions for a company that celebrated its 25th year on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2011.
A history lover and champion of a Carolina liberal arts education, McCausland has paid forward on his Carolina experience at a level demonstrating campaign leadership. Within the past decade, he provided two major gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences for the recruitment and retention of
outstanding faculty. One of those first recruits, McCausland Professor of History Don Doyle
, teaches graduate seminars in 19th century U.S. history.
Another gift was celebrated with the April 5, 2006 dedication of the McCausland Center for Brain Imaging. A SmartState Center of Economic Excellence, its researchers access a Siemens 3-Tesla MRI system. The goal of the McCausland Center, which provides an important tool for understanding brain injury and rehabilitation, is to lead the way in MRI research.
Through funds to recruit and retain and outstanding liberal arts faculty, and your gift helping launch the McCausland Center for Brain Imaging, your philanthropy is having a positive impact on Carolina. What motivates you to give?
“The thing I remember most about my academic experience at Carolina are the outstanding teachers. They were the ones that brought my study of the liberal arts to life. They were the ones who challenged me to think and to explore. The professors at Carolina are outstanding and central to every student’s university experience.”
You’re a history lover and champion of the liberal arts here at Carolina. What areas of history and liberal arts are you the most passionate about?
“The subject of my thesis was the intellectual history of Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is very important to study the development of philosophy and its impact on history. Of course, I enjoyed almost all of my History and English classes at Carolina.”
What are your highest hopes for what USC might accomplish through this historic campaign?
“Carolina is a wonderful University, but it also has a tremendous amount of potential for academic excellence. It is my hope that this campaign will help Carolina realize that potential.”
If you only had a few sentences to make a pitch to a potential donor, what would you say to motivate that individual to give to Carolina’s Promise?
“If the potential donor were an alumni of Carolina, I would ask them to reflect on the impact that the Carolina experience has had on their lives. If the potential donor were not an alumni, I would remind them of how well the University is serving the state of South Carolina and the students that attend Carolina. Finally, whether I was pitching a Carolina alumni or any other person, I would stress that the Carolina community represents an environment in which students feel safe to study, to explore and to express themselves. Carolina is a community which provides its students with many opportunities to develop strong leadership skills.”