The Carnoy Family Program Chair for the “Core of the Core”
Lisa Carnoy CC’89
University Trustee Lisa Carnoy CC’89 continues to reap the rewards of the Core Curriculum, from the love for opera she developed in Music Hum to the confidence she gained from tackling what she calls “the toughest books I’ve ever read” in Contemporary Civilization.
Carnoy, the U.S. Trust division executive for the Northeast and Metro New York markets and one of the highest ranking women on Wall Street, considered those two courses “revelations” and attributes her success in the world of finance largely to the habits of mind she developed through the Core.
“Being able to tackle really challenging issues, having judgment, developing a point of view, being comfortable with people with different points of view — all of that is relevant in whatever field you’re in,” she says, adding that “nothing has taxed my brain more than the Core.”
For Carnoy, the “caliber of the discussion and the complexity of the topics” in CC made it “the Core of the Core.” “Having to delve into Plato, Descartes and Kant, among others, and discuss them with peers in a small seminar, was really, really challenging,” she says. “It definitely heightened my confidence that I could tackle dense texts and difficult ideas.”
Being able to tackle really challenging issues, having judgment, developing a point of view, being comfortable with people with different points of view — all of that is relevant in whatever field you’re in.
Carnoy also found the Core immensely enriching; in what marked the beginning of a lifelong passion, she fondly remembers attending her first two operas — Der Rosenkavalier and Love for Three Oranges — at the Met while taking Music Hum. “Can you think of a more incredible life gift?” she asks, noting that her love of opera has even helped her build business relationships: “A few years back, I was exasperated after inviting a client to a number of sporting events and a Madonna concert, to no avail,” she says. “Finally, I said, ‘What about the opera?’ We went to Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly. It was amazing.”
The Core is so critical to the Columbia experience that I wanted to make sure that certain essential elements were fortified so it will only be stronger with the passage of the next 100 years and beyond.
To ensure that future generations of College students leave College Walk as empowered as she did, Carnoy generously supports alma mater and the Core. Of her gift to the Core to Commencement Campaign, one portion will endow the Carnoy Family Program Chair for Contemporary Civilization and the remainder is a planned gift to the College. The endowed fund provides a stipend and enhances opportunities for the Contemporary Civilization chair, a tenured faculty member. It also empowers the chair, as someone who cares deeply about the Core, to strengthen it by providing intellectual leadership, planning workshops for instructors and coordinating with other Core chairs to think about the future of the Core as a whole.
“The Core is so critical to the Columbia experience that I wanted to make sure that certain essential elements were fortified so it will only be stronger with the passage of the next 100 years and beyond,” Carnoy says.
Carnoy, who majored in American studies and history, graduated cum laude and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard. A former track and field athlete — “It gave me a sense of discipline of being committed to a team and having to go to practice,” she says — Carnoy is a member of the Columbia Campaign for Athletics Leadership Committee and a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Council for Athletics. She also is an emeritus member of the Board of Visitors and the Columbia College Alumni Association Board of Directors.
In 2000, Carnoy was awarded Columbia’s Alumni Medal for service of 10 years or more to the University and in 2007 was presented a John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement.
“I feel enormous gratitude and appreciation to Columbia, which was an unbelievable experience while I was there and continues to be a cornerstone of my life,” says Carnoy, adding, “When I see the amazing things our students and faculty are doing now, I am inspired to stay close and to continue to give. I am thrilled we are setting out on this campaign. This is our moment.”