When Georgia State University President Noah N. Langdale Jr. traveled to give memorable speeches on behalf of the institution, his colleague William S. “Bill” Patrick (B.B.A. ’56, Ph.D. ’75) was usually nearby, serving as his right hand man.
Forged in the 1970s and 1980s, that close friendship and three others were honored recently with a gift from the Alice and Noah N. Langdale Jr. Foundation. Langdale, who passed away in 2008, led GSU from 1957 to ’88.
The gift also honored William G. Pritchard, a founder of Pritchard & Jerden, an insurance and risk management firm near the Georgia State campus; Gordon M. Sherman, a consultant who served as the commissioner of the Social Security Administration for the Southeast for more than 20 years; and Harold T. “Toby” Propst.
The $40,000 donation will help increase university-wide scholarship support for undergraduates, a critical goal in GSU’s path to becoming a national model for educating students from all backgrounds.
Patrick served 36 years at Georgia State in several administrative roles including dean of admissions and vice president for student services. The gift prompted Patrick, 84, to recall the growth of GSU during Langdale’s tenure.
“Georgia State was just beginning to blossom, you might say, when Dr. Langdale came,” he said by phone from his home in Hampton, Ga. “He was a brilliant man in so many ways, and he really put Georgia State University on the map. . . . He was the sparkplug for Georgia State becoming a university.”
Patrick called Langdale a “spellbinder,” whose solid 6-foot-1, 235-pound build from his days as an All-American football tackle helped command an audience’s attention. In Langdale’s three decades, the university’s budget grew from $1.9 million to $118.6 million.
“He had a gift that was remarkable – he could give a three and a half hour talk without any hesitation or notes of any kind,” Patrick said. “I was the man in the shadows. I was fortunate to travel a lot with him, and we did a lot to build Georgia State.”
Patrick’s work at GSU began alongside Professor George Manners in the Bureau of Business and Economic Research in what is now the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. He eventually became assistant director of the counseling center, dean of admissions and vice president of administrative services and vice president for student services.
Although the university has itself transformed since Langdale’s presidency, one constant is the educational value for students of all kind.
“People went to Georgia State who couldn’t afford to get an education anywhere else,” said Patrick, who attended undergraduate classes while selling newspapers to help support his widowed mother and four siblings.
“It was an institution trying to make its way – that was beginning to adopt a program of activity that would permit people who were not rich to come and get a good education.”
The Langdale Foundation gift also highlights the ongoing impact of his generation’s support for GSU. As these educators and administrators retire, their careers have inspired an influx of scholarship money to help students in need.
For example, to honor Patrick’s 10 consecutive years as chair of the GSU Foundation board, the William S. Patrick Scholarship was established in 2006 to support full-time students in good academic standing who demonstrate financial need.
When asked to describe the other honorees of the $40,000 gift, Patrick replied: “They were all very good men who made Georgia State rise from nothing to a really fine university. It was a pale shadow of itself back then, but now it’s a very, very well respected institution.”
Jan. 30, 2012