Since graduating from Grinnell College with honors in 1951, Carolyn “Kay” Bucksbaum has worked tirelessly to support the arts, education, and charitable causes. She leveraged her passion for and degrees in English and journalism to affect the media in Iowa and the nation, and now, to improve how physicians communicate with patients.
Bucksbaum’s influence began when, as a Grinnell College student, she joined the League of Women Voters (she later served as an officer in state and local chapters). She has served as a board member (and also president) for the Des Moines Symphony Association; board member for the Des Moines United Way and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; chair of the Aspen Music Festival and School; and trustee for the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Des Moines Art Center. In addition, she is vice president of the Jewish Welfare Federation, and chair and trustee on the Grinnell College Board of Trustees.
In the communications arena, she was the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company’s first outside director. She also served as director of Hawkeye Cablevision, president of Grinnell Communications Corporation, vice president and board member for the Foundation in National Public Radio, and a founder of Friends of Iowa Educational Broadcasting.
When she experienced the profound benefit of medical care that included outstanding compassion and communication, she led the Matthew and Carolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation to give $42 million to the University of Chicago to create the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, which will place the doctor-patient relationship under rigorous analysis and train a cadre of physicians in patient-centered care.
Grinnell College proudly honors Kay Bucksbaum for the many ways she has benefited society through her time, talents and
Thank you for these kind words and for what I truly consider to be a great honor.
About a week ago, I listened to Yo-Yo Ma speak to a number of trustees of the Chicago Symphony. He said he met Pablo Casals, the world’s most greatly acclaimed cellist, when he, Yo-Yo, was 9 years old. Casals told him, “First I’m a human being. Then I’m a musician. And then I’m a cellist.”
If your Grinnell College has been like mine was, you are graduating today as more of a human being than when you first arrived here. You may or may not know in what genre you plan to spend your life, but Casals’ relegated cellist to his third category, that of a technician, who constantly was practicing and working to improve. Mr. Casals’ categorical rankings had young Yo-Yo wide-eyed, at the time, he said. The world, however, has seen since the great human being that Pablo Casals’ influence developed.
I believe that Grinnell College strongly influenced my lifelong work toward becoming a human being. I congratulate each of you, too, upon receiving an impressive start on this journey. Thank you.