David Kaun, Creator of the Milam-McGinty-Kaun Award

November 30, 2012

By Connie Yu, Web Master 

David Kaun, creator of the Milam-McGinty-Kaun Award
For more than 45 years, David Kaun has been greatly impacting students involved with Economics and the Arts. Before coming to University of California, Santa Cruz in 1966, Kaun was affiliated with the University of Pittsburg and the Brookings Institution. Early on, his major research interests have been in the areas of the quality of work and higher education, the ideological basis underlying economic paradigms, military defense procurement and defense industry contractor behavior, and an analysis of the impact of conservative "think tanks" on public policy. Currently, he is engaged with the culture arts aspect of Economics.

For the past fifteen years, David Kaun has donated more then $700,000 to local and regional arts organizations. In 2000, Kaun established the Milam-McGinty-Kaun Award. This award grants two graduate students, one from the Economics Department and one from another department in the Division of Social Sciences, a $1,000 award.

The Milam-McGinty-Kaun Award resulted from Garrett Milam and Matt McGinty becoming teacher assistants in Kaun's Intermediate Microeconomic Theory course. Kaun was incredibly impressed with the way Milam and McGinty handled their teaching assistance jobs. David states, "These two wonderful young men were phenomenal in every dimension. They were so good, I just wanted to acknowledge that kind of teaching assistance." He has also established a modest endowed fund to support the Economics Department Staff.

Kaun's passion is exposing and engaging youth in the Arts. The David E. Kaun Music Scholarship Endowment, Shakespeare Santa Cruz's STAT program, the Albert and Sara Kaun Chamber Music Endowment, and merit scholarships for the UCSC Resident String Ensemble are just some of his primary funding to UC, Santa Cruz. Along with the numerous awards and donations Kaun has contributed, he also established a $100,000 music scholarship that supports the Student String Quartet. For more than 25 years, David was a symphony clarinetist; he continues to play in the UCSC Wind Ensemble, which his financial support helped in its development.

Early on, Kaun came across an article written by Andrew Carnegie titled "Wealth". In this article, Carnegie argued how there are three basic actions individuals can take with surplus wealth. They can either leave it to their families, and run the risk of "ruining" their children; they can leave it to the government, and be unable to control how it is used; and finally, they can spend it and give it away during their lifetime, an action Carnegie called "the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth." This article inspired and influenced Kaun. He reassures, "I do believe that the only intelligent thing to do with your money is to spend it in the ways you want, and to do some good in the process."

David Kaun retired this past year, but he is still teaching and can be found wandering the halls of the Economics Department.