Norman Radow, founder and CEO of The RADCO Companies and a major benefactor in multiple Atlanta Jewish causes, has pledged $9 million on behalf of himself and his wife Lindy in one of the largest single gifts in the history of Kennesaw State University.
He granted an exclusive interview with the AJT to explain how he arrived at the decision vis-a-vis his long-term alliance with KSU. The school is one of the largest public universities in Georgia, with an enrollment of about 41,000.
“We have changed KSU from being the unwanted stepchild to the forefront, as a favorite child,” Radow said.
His enthusiasm and energy are well in line with his objectives, past devotion to KSU and his commitment to affect a better academic future.
Lean in to his candid motivations and how he sees the future.
AJT: You went to college in New York (SUNY), Lindy went to the University of Georgia, and your children did not attend KSU, so how did you get so involved there?
Radow: In 1998, KSU was a small commuter school which had recently failed to even build a girl’s dormitory to take steps forward. Having met Michael Coles through Jewish community events, we went to lunch where he convinced me to form a private-public partnership where we could buy property, apartments, parking deck space, etc., to pick up what the state was not providing. Who can say “no” to Coles? [The KSU Business School is named after him]. KSU was a “diamond in the rough” as we took it from a small college to a major university by getting in on the ground floor.
AJT: So is the $9 million a random amount? You woke up one day and crafted that?
Radow: I was chairman of the KSU Foundation board from 2007 to 2012. In the past I had endowed $1.7 million to the engineering school in honor of my father Paul. Every year, four engineering students get a $10,000 stipend where it frees them from having to work while in school. The money is in perpetuity in a permanent account.
In terms of the decision amount, this time the KSU leadership called Lindy and me in January and presented us with a book detailing a menu of options [for] what another endowment might look like in terms of cutting edge innovations [in education}. Lindy and I looked at each other and said, “We have to do this.” In September we funded it, and because of the election and other news cycle events, the announcement was made the first week in December. In terms of the odd amount, it’s actually $10 million with past credits being deducted to arrive at $9 million.
AJT: Why humanities? Some say the emphasis today is on technology, industry, science for more practical job placement.
Radow: I disagree. Humanities is the largest division at KSU with 8,000 majors. It involves language, psychology, economics, international conflict management skills, and cross disciplinary work, plus research in doctoral programs. A future businessperson should have a broad base. I have an undergraduate degree in history, which led me to law school.
AJT: The College of Humanities School will carry your name and within this, a $2 million slice will establish the Lindy Radow Humanities and Scholarship Endowment fund, which will be matched by KSU to reach $5 million as it rolls out.
Radow: We have gone in a relatively short period of time to a 24/7 university with 5,000 residential units, a stadium (located on Radow Way) a street with a sports park, and tremendous infrastructure improvements.
AJT: What Jewish programs have captured your interest?
Radow: At KSU I endow a Jewish lecture series, which is ongoing. We sponsored programs on Jews in baseball, Jews in the South, playwright Alfred Uhry, and a star from “Glee.” This not only appeals to the Jewish community but connects other students to it.
I had been active in Chabad and Hillel, in which I strongly believe.
AJT: What if someone comes down the road with more money and renames?
Radow: I would never let anything get in the way of what’s best for the university. This is not about my ego. The potential in front of us now is amazing!
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Norman Radow
- Kennesaw State University
- Kennesaw State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Michael Coles
- Commuter college
- KSU Business School
- international conflict management skills
- The College of Humanities School
- Lindy Radow Humanities and Scholarship Endowment fund