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When entrepreneur Dick Costolo (B.S. '85) was a student in LSA, he took a few courses you might expect. But along with his computer science and economics classes, Costolo discovered he was just as engrossed in classes on art, literature, and even theater. He embraced the humanities along with the social and natural sciences, believing that a holistic view of the world would set him up for success, no matter where he wanted to go.
“I decided that I would pursue a knowledge gap where I felt had one. It didn't matter what the gap was,” Costolo says.
In fact, he still thinks about a history of Renaissance art class and the extensive discussions they had on the paintings, the artists, and the evolution of artistic style. Costolo has even been known to sprinkle in art history lessons when speaking to his team or employees, as much to expand their frame of reference as to impart a particular bit of wisdom.
His experience in the liberal arts had another interesting effect: He found he had gained an appetite for risk-taking, which he says has been beneficial in many aspects of his life. It’s why he turned down tech jobs immediately after graduation to try his hand at improv comedy, why he began his own company and later moved to San Francisco to lead Twitter, and why he is now working on launching his own digital fitness platform.
All of this risk-taking taught Dick to be resilient in the face of obstacles. “Great leaders synthesize their decisions for the team; they don’t simply explain where we’re going but provide context for why we are going there,” he says. “The humanities help teach you how to frame context better than any functional expertise.”
It’s for these reasons that Costolo believes so strongly in the mission of the LSA Opportunity Hub: to help liberal arts students connect the flexible and durable skills they’re gaining in the classroom to their careers and lives after college. He and his family recently endowed three funds to ensure the success of the Hub, the Lorin and Dick Costolo Catalyst Fund, the Costolo Innovation Fund, and the Costolo Internship Fund. Each gift will help build the Hub and help to achieve its goal of ensuring that LSA students can find internships, funding, and mentorship experiences regardless of their financial background. This increases access to enriching post-college careers and lives for a diverse array of students.
And Costolo thinks the benefit is mutual: “The tech industry stands to benefit from diverse viewpoints,” he says. “If your workplace doesn’t reflect the diversity of your user base or the population, you will have blind spots. The Hub can help connect employers to liberal arts students who have different perspectives.”
Ultimately, says Costolo, the Hub is exciting because it will assist LSA students—those, he says, who develop their “whole selves”—in connecting the valuable skills they gain in the liberal arts to their lives ahead of them. In part, that means building satisfying careers, whether they get there in a straightforward way—or not.
“You have to, in service to leading a fulfilled life, do what you’re passionate about doing, what you’re dying to do,” says Costolo. “When you’re doing what you love, you become resilient. Because when things go wrong, as they inevitably will, you don’t sit there asking yourself ‘how did this happen?’ you simply figure out your next step and move on.”