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Steven Kautz

steve kautz

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Steven J. Kautz passed away in his home on November 22, 2018, surrounded in his last days by family and many friends after a 14-month battle with lung cancer . He was born on January 30, 1959, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his father was finishing his engineering degree. The family then moved to Wisconsin, where he spent a happy childhood in Germantown and Jackson, suburbs of Milwaukee. It was there Steve developed lifelong passions for reading and academics, baseball and the Green Bay Packers. Steve was active in student government, golf and cross country and graduated as valedictorian from Washington High School in Germantown.

Steve started at James Madison College in 1977, where he excelled as a student of political philosophy, graduating from Michigan State University in 1981 after winning a prestigious Truman Scholarship. In 1989 Steve earned his Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, having studied there with Allan Bloom, Saul Bellow, Nathan Tarcov, and many other outstanding faculty. He then went on to an exemplary academic career in Political Science, first at Emory University and later at MSU.

Steve Kautz is the author of the book, Liberalism and Community, along with many published articles on American political theory and Abraham Lincoln. He was working on a book about Abraham Lincoln when he passed away. Beyond being an accomplished researcher, Steve excelled in both teaching and service work. His passion for undergraduate education led him to serve in several significant leadership capacities at MSU: Honors College, Associate Dean (2005-2007); Department of Political Science, Ph.D. Program Director; College of Social Science, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs (2014-2018). For several years, Steve led a study abroad program that introduced hundreds of students to the politics and culture of the United Kingdom. Steve established programs that will continue to provide future generations of students access to the best, broadest, and most challenging educational opportunities available.

Regardless of the position he held, Steve worked tirelessly to inspire generations, believing his purpose, whether in the classroom or administrative roles, that of providing students an opening to the world of learning and the themes that ought to serve as the foundation for their lives as individuals, citizens, and professionals. Hundreds of grateful students, results of Steve’s tireless shepherding, have gone on to successful careers throughout the country and will no doubt multiply his influence and legacy exponentially. Steve dedicated himself and his work to the old fashioned cause of liberty, especially the virtues of tolerance and respect for privacy. A fervent supporter of constitutional government, constitutionalism, and the rule of law, Steve was devoted to making our politics better and our political debates more civilized, whether in his teaching and writings or in practical political work, such as the campaigns of his lifelong friend, Richard Cordray.

When not working, Steve loved the theater, classical music concerts and opera. He was a faithful sports fan and enjoyed attending Tiger games. He loved visiting big cities, chiefly London and New York. He always possessed the latest gadgets, particularly the finest television. He was an especially gracious host, entertaining and cooking for friends. Steve was a devoted son and brother, proud of his family and dedicated to supporting his ailing mother Judy in her final days. He is lovingly survived by his father, Harry, and sister, Suzanne. Anyone fortunate enough to experience Steve’s extraordinary gift of friendship will remain forever grateful for the time spent together.