KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 19, 2016) — Kennesaw State’s new education building was officially christened the Chantal and Tommy Bagwell Education Building on Wednesday in recognition of a multi-million-dollar gift from the couple that continues a family tradition of giving to the University.
Earlier this year, the Bagwells made two gifts to the university: a $2 million naming gift and another $1 million to establish the Bagwell Endowed Chair in the Bagwell College of Education.
“Today, we express gratitude for a gift that is transformational,” said Interim President Houston Davis. “Thank you, Chantal and Tommy, for naming the Chantal and Tommy Bagwell Education Building. Not only does your gift name the edifice for the Bagwell College of Education, it will also enhance the learning opportunities and programs offered to our undergraduate and graduate education students.”
A lasting legacy
A KSU jazz ensemble greeted faculty, staff, students and guests gathered for the naming ceremony, a highlight of which was the unveiling of a permanent plaque in the lobby of the building recognizing the Bagwells and their generous gifts.
“The Bagwell College of Education is extremely proud to be the beneficiary of the Bagwell family’s giving and their involvement with Kennesaw State,” said Dean Arlinda Eaton. “Continuing the legacy of his parents, Tommy and his wife, Chantal, are committed volunteers and thoughtful benefactors. In naming the Chantal and Tommy Bagwell Education Building, they have created endowments to benefit the college in perpetuity. With this gift, the Bagwell College of Education will be able to respond to the greatest needs of its students and faculty, and will create a prestigious endowed chair position to enhance the innovative pedagogy and professional preparation offered to aspiring and experienced educators.”
A family tradition of giving
The Bagwells’ long history of philanthropy and service to Kennesaw State began in 1996, when Clarice Bagwell, Tommy Bagwell’s mother, made a generous gift to the BCOE, officially named the Leland H. and Clarice C. Bagwell College of Education. A former teacher, Clarice Bagwell received the university’s first Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
“We heard about the fundraising campaign and the naming opportunity, and my wife said to me, ‘You just need to go ahead and do that. We don’t need someone else’s name on the Bagwell College,’” recalled Tommy Bagwell. “And, I said, ‘You know, you’re right. We should continue to reinforce mom’s legacy.’”
Tommy and Chantal Bagwell are the owners of Cumming-based American Proteins, Inc. After his father died in 1972, Tommy Bagwell became CEO of the company and his mother assumed the roles of co-owner and chairman of the board. Despite her leadership positions, Clarice Bagwell didn’t draw a salary. Several times over the years, Tommy Bagwell asked his mother if there was anything she wanted.
“I had asked her at least a half a dozen times, and finally, one day she said, ‘I would like to make a donation to Kennesaw State in my lifetime,’” he recalled.
To fulfill his mother’s wish, American Proteins gave the KSU Foundation the largest gift it had received to date at that time: 680 acres of land in Bartow County that would later be sold for $2 million.
A family tradition of service
“Tommy Bagwell has served as a (KSU Foundation) trustee for 11 years,” said Jo Ann Chitty, chairman of the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees. “For those 11 years and beyond, Chantal and Tommy have been shining examples of benevolent leadership and engaged donors.”
Clarice Bagwell also served as a trustee and member of the KSU Foundation and a member of the executive committee of the Foundation.
“One aspect of society that does trouble me is social mobility,” Tommy Bagwell said. “One of the greatest equalizers is if people can get a good education. It’s the great leveler; the great enabler.”