Renovated Spaces and Art Donated by Norman J. Radow Make for Transformative Student Experiences

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 13, 2023) — By James R. Turner

If you have ever walked into a space filled with natural light, welcoming furnishings, and interesting art and felt good, or conversely spent time in a windowless room with uncomfortable furniture, and barren walls and didn’t feel that great, then you have experienced the impact public art, and the built environment can have on your mood and emotional wellbeing. You may not even have been aware of what it was that made you feel one way or the other.


Norman J. Radow Standing in Front of Donated Art Piece
Norman Radow Poses in Front of One of His Donated Works of Art

More and more, studies show that our built environment – the buildings, walls, furniture, paint colors, building materials, and even the art on the walls – can impact a person either positively or negatively. This is not new news to Norman J. Radow. As a real estate developer and art collector, he is keenly aware of how buildings and art shape our lives and impact how we feel. This awareness has in many ways influenced his philanthropic support of the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences, both through his financial generosity and his in-kind donations of art from his personal collection.

Norman Radow believes art is transformative in the learning environment, a catalyst for fostering creativity, critical thinking, and cultural appreciation. His lifelong passion for art, and the inspiration for donating multiple pieces from his collection, stems partly from his time as an undergraduate at SUNY Plattsburgh in New York. It was there he experienced first-hand how integrating art into educational spaces enhances aesthetics and creates a dynamic atmosphere that stimulates intellectual curiosity.

"Plattsburgh is mostly a cold, barren area in the winter," said Radow "The campus had a pretty stark landscape. The buildings were built in the late '60s and early '70s using the brutalist style with hard, rigid concrete lines, almost prison-esque and void of warmth. In the late 70s, the college started a program that transformed the campus into a walking artscape. It started small with a piece of steel art in a common area, and today, art can be seen all around campus, inside and outside. It made me realize how important art can be, creating a good feeling and a good feeling about education."

Following his transformative $9 million gift to Kennesaw State University (KSU) and the naming of the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Norman Radow continues to shape the aesthetic impact the surrounding environment has on its students. His in-kind gifts of artwork valued at $744,000 have been installed throughout Radow College and around the campus. They add a vibrance and vitality to the spaces students inhabit which, consciously or not, creates an environment that is more welcoming and engaging. From contemporary paintings to evocative sculptures, each piece holds the potential to spark students’ exploration of the world beyond the confines of textbooks and traditional learning.

The impact of Norman Radow's support for the college extends beyond art installations. With his funding, the Social Sciences Building lobby underwent a significant renovation resulting in more welcoming furniture, artistic light fixtures, new flooring, and upgraded furniture in the glass-enclosed study area called “The Study at the Bev,” named for his mother Beverly Radow. The college now boasts an environment intentionally designed to cultivate creativity, imagination, and a sense of cultural appreciation.  Dean Kaukinen, expressing gratitude for Norman Radow's transformative gift said, "Norman's generosity has elevated the college's commitment to holistic education. The infusion of art into our academic spaces provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to engage with ideas, fostering a rich tapestry of learning and personal development."

Radow's passion for art as an integral part of the learning journey reflects a broader understanding of education as an accumulation of knowledge and an immersive experience that shapes character and aspirations. Students encounter his carefully selected artwork as they walk through the corridors, and whether actively or passively, they are experiencing an enriching environment that encourages curiosity, exploration, and self-discovery.

"Beauty for its own sake is a worthwhile endeavor," said Radow. "The fact that we can beautify the college means a lot. Art conveys so much about the human condition it surrounds, even in humanities and social sciences. The donation elevates the importance of their majors and their choice of Radow College as their educational institution. Beautiful art sends a message that conveys perspective. You can be inspired by it, and I think the students, faculty, and administrative and facilities staff feel that."

Norman Radow's journey from history major to real estate magnate and philanthropist exemplifies how early influences can manifest later in one’s career. His commitment to shaping communities and fostering education in the humanities and social sciences is demonstrated in both his financial and his in-kind art contributions. The beauty of the latter is that students can experience the positive impact of welcoming spaces and exposure to great art daily, which may someday influence their own world view.