Peter Kastor, Ph.D., ’89

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Peter Kastor, Ph.D.Professor and chair in the Department of History at Washington University in St. Louis, Peter Kastor, Ph.D., ’89, has written books, essays and articles, and teaches undergraduates in history and American culture studies classes. His career is now focused on academic life, but he remembers being an “indifferent” student early in his college career. 

“I remain grateful for the extraordinary opportunities I found at F&M that helped lay the foundation for successes in my life,” he explains. “But the F&M community also cared about me when I was an unsuccessful student, when I was struggling; the faculty empathized and they were invested in my success and my happiness.” He says that experience still informs his teaching today, and is one of the reasons he supports the liberal arts education still enjoyed by today’s students at Franklin & Marshall College.
 
Kastor and his wife, Shannon Lopata Kastor, give to the Franklin & Marshall Fund every year. When making their estate plans, Kastor and his wife established a trust and included F&M as a partial beneficiary. Their deferred gift will support future students so that they can experience the supportive F&M community as Kastor did. 

“A positive undergraduate experience can be transformative in a student’s life. It was for mine; that’s what liberal arts colleges do,” he says. “I still believe most successful adults are those who have been appropriately challenged to not only identify their own limits, but to find ways to exceed those limits.” 

Kastor says he did “a lot of different things” at F&M, and didn’t always assume he would have an academic career. He worked at The College Reporter, F&M’s student newspaper, and participated in student government. He was a resident  assistant and an orientation adviser, and he got involved with WFNM radio. Along the way, he formed what he considers to be invaluable relationships with other students and with faculty members. 

Right after graduation, he went to work in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., in the office that enforces the Voting Rights Act. He found out about the job through an F&M connection. Two years later, he went to graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he earned his Ph.D. in history. But he always remembered the benefits of his undergraduate years at the College. 
“I had so many opportunities at F&M to do things that were exciting and completely different from my past experiences,” he recalls. “And the community of friends and faculty was very supportive and encouraging.” 

Today, Kastor is married and has two young children. He says he learned how to have a happy life as an undergraduate at F&M. 
“F&M is the place where I learned how to be successful and happy,” he says. “And for that I feel enormously grateful.” 

To learn how to craft your own legacy gift to F&M, contact Mary Ann M. Cooke, J.D., ’90, Director of Gift Planning, at 717-358-4821 or mcooke@fandm.edu.