Bill Gage '64 knows that creativity can play an important role in leading a rewarding and purposeful life. He majored in math at Carleton, studied high-energy physics in graduate school, and has spent most of his life writing computer programs to solve business and science problems (he designed an anchoring pattern for oil-drilling ships, for example). But he also has been a partner in a winery (for which he has done everything from stomping grapes to financial accounting) and has designed a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a deck for his home.
Hearing Carleton’s President Robert A. Oden Jr. speak about the importance of creativity and innovation in education struck a chord with him. “I believe that creativity is the goal of educated people,” he says, “and that it is a skill that can be taught and learned.” When Gage learned that Carleton’s Arts Union would house a centralized technology resource center, stocked with computer-related creative tools and staffed with expert help, Gage and his wife, Nancy Bauer, gave the College a $1 million gift in support of the space.
The center will integrate curricular support for students and faculty members working with words, sounds, and images in a variety of media. It will be a sort of one-stop shop to get assistance with everything from conceptualizing assignments to using the tools and technologies needed to complete the assignments. The center will be staffed with academic technologists, reference librarians, and other experts, says Andrea Nixon, Carleton’s director of curricular and research support. “We’re taking a page from Apple and its genius bar, which offers hands-on technical support for the company’s products,” she says. “We are creating our own genius bar. Just as the College provides specialized support in the sciences and languages, we will support the use of visual media and materials most closely associated with the arts.”
Gage thinks the idea is a nice fit for Carleton, considering his own creative background. “I’ve always seen my work with computers as creative. After all, I develop innovative solutions to people’s problems,” he says. “When students are encouraged to think creatively, they can apply that creativity to their area of study—whatever that may be—and also to all areas of their lives.”