Family Honors Harry Cargas With Scholarship Fund

| April 20, 2012

Harry J. Cargas

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), observed this year on April 19, seems the right time to announce the creation of the Harry J. Cargas Endowed Scholarship Fund. A member of Webster’s English department from 1970 until his death in 1998, Cargas was a widely respected Holocaust scholar as well as a beloved teacher and colleague.

Originally, the endowment was established by his wife Millie and the Cargas family to support a lectureship series on Human Rights. The family has since decided to reallocate the funds contained within the Cargas Endowed Lectureship Fund to provide scholarship support for Webster students.

The Harry J. Cargas Scholarship Fund shall be awarded to a full-time undergraduate with a demonstrated academic interest in Human Rights or Global Citizenship, an interest in international field experience, and with demonstrated financial need.

Initial preference shall be given to Human Rights majors in the College of Arts and Sciences, but the recipients need not necessarily be Human Rights majors. Recipients shall have obtained a minimum grade point average of 3.0, or its equivalent. This requirement may be waived for students demonstrating significant academic success. The scholarship shall be renewable as long as the student(s) continues to meet the academic restrictions and reapplies each year.

“Peace In Deed”

During his years with Webster, Cargas earned the love and respect of faculty, staff and students alike.

“Harry James Cargas signed his communications, ‘Peace in Deed’ – not ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Yours Truly’ – but ‘Peace in Deed,’” School of Education professor Debbie Stiles wrote in her contribution to My Webster Story. “He was not just a professor (one who professes, avows, declares); he reached out to others and gave of himself. He wrote about principled people who were willing to stand up for their beliefs and those who were willing to help others.”

The author of more than 2,500 articles and 32 books, including Conversations with Elie Wiesel, Religious Experience and Process Theology, and Daniel Berrigan and Contemporary Protest Poetry, Cargas counted Nobel Prize­ winner Elie Wiesel among his friends.

At Webster he taught courses on the novels of Kurt Vonnegut (also a personal friend), Native American literature, Latin American literature, protest literature, and many more eclectic subjects. In addition to teaching in the English Department and serving as its chair, Cargas taught history and religion courses, led the Art Department for a time, and served as athletic director in the late 1980s.

He was well known to St. Louisans for his 25 years of radio broadcasts on KWMU radio. He was also an internationally recognized public speaker, having lectured in eight foreign countries and at more than 40 U.S. colleges and universities. He received numerous awards including the Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association, the Eternal Flame Award from the Anne Frank Institute and the Tree of Life from the National Jewish Fund.

In 1980, Cargas was appointed by President Carter to be one of the original members of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which laid the groundwork for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Other appointments included the executive council of the U.S. Holocaust council; vice-president of the Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust; and the honor of being the only Catholic ever appointed to the International Advisory Committee of Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust memorial.

Additional gifts may be added to the Harry J. Cargas Endowed Scholarship Fund at any time by contacting Matt Andrew in the Office of Development.

Vicki Winslow, donor relations coordinator, Development Office, and Shannon Frank, coordinator of scholarships, Office of Admissions, provided information for this article.

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    Category: Alumni and Development, Faculty, Student Affairs and News, Webster News

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    1. Patrick Stack says:

      I asked Harry to do me a favor after learning he invited Kurt Vonnegut to Webster. There was a student at Webster Groves High School who was giving teachers, administrators, and his mom and dad a difficult time. The student was a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut. Informing Harry of the circumstances I requested he speak to Mr. Vonnegut about the possibility of meeting privately with the student….set the student on the right path. Kurt agreed!
      The high school student and his mom and dad were asked to meet me in the Sverdrup building. The mother and father of the student were informed what was to take place, the student was not informed. When they arrived at Sverdrup the student immediately met Mr. Vonnegut. The two of them went into a room together for a private 15 minute meeting. I have no idea what they talked about. I do know when the student came out of that meeing he became an exemplary student at the Webster Groves High School and today is a successful businessman with a family in Phoenix, Arizona. Bless you Harry and Kurt.