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From left: Jie Weiss, Roberta E. Rikli, Kathryn T. McCarty, President Milton A. Gordon and Shari McMahan. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Living to Give

Donor and Cancer Survivor Now Supports Cancer Research Efforts

March 17, 2009

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Kathryn T. McCarty had her first mastectomy in 1967, and her second, 17 years later. In the last five years, she’s battled skin cancer five times.

“I’m very familiar with cancer, and I’m a survivor,” McCarty said.

So, she said, it’s fitting that her latest donation to Cal State Fullerton will help students and faculty do more cancer research.

McCarty recently donated $50,000 to support the university’s health science programs. In gratitude, the College of Health and Human Development has named one of its laboratories the Kathryn T. McCarty Public Health Student Research Lab, Room 2 in the Kinesiology and Health Science Building.

McCarty and her late husband, Perry McCarty, who was vice president of Beckman Instruments for three decades, began giving to Cal State Fullerton in the mid-1980s. They established a charitable remainder unitrust with a $25,000 gift.

After her husband died in 1994, McCarty continued giving. She donated $100,000 to the Performing Arts Center campaign and made more donations for music scholarships. She signed a pledge for $1 million to the College of the Arts as a naming gift for the Kathryn T. McCarty Grand Foyer in the Clayes Performing Arts Center.

“On behalf of the faculty, staff, students, more than 191,000 alumni and all those students who have yet to enter the university, whose learning will be enhanced by your many generous gifts, we thank you for your friendship and support,” President Milton A. Gordon told McCarty at a March 6 dedication ceremony in her honor. “You are truly a Titan in your generosity to our university.”

Sora Tanjasiri, professor of health science and director of the university’s Center for Cancer Disparities Research, called McCarty a “thriver” for surviving cancer seven times.

“We have much to learn from you,” Tanjasiri told McCarty. “Because of your generosity, many will go on and add to the wealth of information on how you thrive.”

Added Shari McMahan, chair and professor of health science and acting director of the new Health Promotion Research Institute: “Your donation is an earmark and a hallmark of student research that’s yet to come, and the Kathryn T. McCarty Student Research Lab will be well used.”

Before unveiling the plaque bearing McCarty’s name, health science majors and graduate students in the master of public health program paid tribute to McCarty with thank-you speeches and a bouquet of flowers.

“In a time when resources are especially coveted and where need is all around us, your generosity will help to create a connection between academia and community, to improve the lives of the people who make up the community and to enable faculty and students to live out their talents by doing their work,” grad student Janet Povero told McCarty. “We thank you with deep sincerity.”

Roberta E. Rikli, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, said the overall research goal is to prevent disease, and McCarty’s gift will go toward student scholarships so they can work alongside faculty members doing that.

McCarty, who lives in Fullerton, next door to Jie Weiss, assistant professor of health science, said she was compelled to make the donation after Weiss gave her a tour of the college’s health science labs and programs.

During the tour, McCarty said, she met faculty, staff and students of the Health Science Department and learned about the "wonderful and important" research being conducted.

“I am very pleased and impressed with all the work being done,” McCarty said. “I’m just delighted to be able to contribute. I’m thrilled to help others in this way."

Related Story:

A Video Interview with Kathryn McCarty

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