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Paying it forward

June 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Bob Owens ‘66 grew up on a small farm in Blue Earth, Minn. — “and I do mean small, both physically and economically,” he adds with a laugh. “I would never have been able to attend a school of this caliber without financial support and work opportunities.”

At Carleton, where he majored in government and international relations, he worked as a waiter in the dining rooms. During the summers he worked at the Green Giant plant near his home. “What I earned in the summer went a long way toward my tuition,” he remembers. “But I don’t know any college student who would be able to pay for school with a summer job. That goes a long way toward showing how much the cost of education has changed.”

Owens, now retired after a long career at West Publishing, says he sees other Carleton students — and potential students — in situations similar to his own, so he has decided to do what he can to help out. In addition to Annual Fund giving, he has established an endowed scholarship, funded one of the student townhomes, and became a member of the Joseph Lee Heywood Society after including Carleton in his will.

Although he attended college — and later law school — at the urging of his father, a farmer who had also had dreams of being an attorney, Owens chose Carleton for the diversity of experiences it offered. What he found was what he describes as “a marvelous heterogeneity” among his fellow students. “It was a real eye-opener for me,” he says. “That’s the one thing, aside from the fabulous education, that meant a lot to me. It has helped me to understand other people and their experiences.”