Kennesaw State University to create social equity institute

Kennesaw State University officials announced Tuesday it is launching an institute to advance the understanding and impacts of social equity and disparity.

Officials said in a news release the Radow Institute for Social Equity “will seek to address the challenges of social justice, equity and economic inequality while developing sustainable solutions that help address pressing social challenges and produce real change.”

The center is named after after longtime KSU benefactor Norman J. Radow, a former board of trustees chairman. Radow and his wife, Lindy, donated $9 million to KSU in December, one of the largest gifts the university has ever received. RISE will be housed within the Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“With the launch of RISE, Kennesaw State will be able to play a leading-edge national role in discovering and disseminating solutions to combat racial injustice and inequities,” said KSU President Pamela Whitten. “We are grateful to Norman for merging his vision with our aspirations to make a positive impact on our community and the world.”

KSU, like many Georgia colleges and universities, last year created a task force to explore racial challenges and opportunities after nationwide protests against racism and social disparities. The university, which has campuses in Kennesaw and Marietta, has become one of the state’s most racially diverse universities but has encountered criticism of some policy decisions concerning diversity and discrimination. Nearly 50% of its students are non-white, state data shows. KSU has more than 41,000 students, the second-largest enrollment in the state.

Officials said the institute “will conduct scholarship to expand opportunities for equity across diverse populations; foster community engagement and dialogue around issues of social justice, equity and race; develop tomorrow’s leaders to combat social and economic inequities; and become an international destination for a broad spectrum of active scholars and educators to work together and develop strategies to advance social justice and equity.”

KSU is developing programs for the institute and conducting a national search for a lead researcher, officials said.

“This is an important time in our history and it’s imperative that we find ways to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally,” Norman Radow said in a statement. “My hope is that this Institute will be a giant step forward towards combating racism and social inequity. I applaud Dr. Whitten and the entire University for boldly stepping up and taking on this challenge.”