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About Carthage

The Honorable David A. Straz Jr.

The Honorable David A. Straz, Jr. served as a Carthage Trustee from 2011 to 2018, and as Chairman of the Carthage College Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2018. He passed away Nov. 18, 2019, at the age of 77.

The Honorable David A. Straz, Jr.Respected internationally for his generosity and philanthropical support, Ambassador Straz was a successful banking entrepreneur and an envoy of understanding in Central America, Africa, and the United States.

He and his wife, Catherine, selectively supported institutions principally in higher education and the visual and performing arts. Catherine served as a Carthage Trustee until 2011, when Ambassador Straz succeeded her on the Carthage Board.

Two years after graduating from college, David Straz acquired a small country bank near Milwaukee and built First Southeast Banking Corporation, with multiple branches, before his 40th birthday. After he sold that enterprise, his Wisconsin holdings eventually became part of U. S. Bank.

Ambassador Straz then repeated that achievement in Florida, where he built Southern Exchange Bank in the Tampa Bay area. After extended rapid growth of the bank, Ambassador Straz sold Southern Exchange in 2003, and it now operates as the Florida Gulf Coast branches of Fifth Third Bank. Ambassador Straz continued to provide counsel for other financial institutions during his life.

Catherine and David Straz earned widespread respect and appreciation for their philanthropy across many years. Major buildings at Carthage, Marquette University, and the University of Tampa carry the Straz name. The performing arts center of the City of Tampa was named for the Ambassador. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is noted for its David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Hospital.

In addition to his service to the Carthage Board of Trustees, Ambassador Straz served as chairman and trustee of Tampa General Hospital; chairman of the board at Marquette University, the University of Tampa, and the Lowry Park Zoo Foundation; and as a past treasurer of the Tampa Yacht & Country Club. He also served as a director/trustee of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

This portrait of Mr. Straz was painted in egg tempera by renowned Canadian artist Istvan Nyikos. ...This portrait of Mr. Straz was painted in egg tempera by renowned Canadian artist Istvan Nyikos. The painting now hangs prominently in the atrium of Straz Center.Ambassador Straz held honorary doctorates from Carthage, the Catholic University of Honduras, Marquette University, Polytechnic University of Honduras, and the University of Liberia. He received the 19th Carthage Flame, the highest honor bestowed by the College.

In Wisconsin, Ambassador Straz was named the Marquette “Alumnus of the Year” and received formal commendation by the Governor for service to higher education and the arts. In Florida, he was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame, named the “Philanthropist of the Year” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and awarded the keys to the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County for “true philanthropy and community leadership.”

Respect for Ambassador Straz extended abroad. In addition to his honorary degrees, he received the “Humanitarian of the Decade” award from the College of West Africa. He held the key to the City of Monrovia and was knighted into the Humane Order of African Redemption. He served as Ambassador at Large and Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Liberia, and as Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Honduras.

Read about The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • Our athletes rank up some impressive stats. So does our fitness center. The N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center (better known as the TARC), is home to a 16-lane swimming pool, 200-meter indoor track, two racquetball courts, an indoor rock climbing wall, and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center.

    • Carthage fields 24 NCAA Division III sports, including basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball, and water polo. Our varsity teams play in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin — regularly taking home hardware from one of the nation’s toughest Division III conferences.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …