The new Life Design center and program at Bowling Green State University will help students maximize their academic experience and future careers.
The ribbon cutting for the official opening of the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design took place on Thursday, with Radbill and his life partner Jan Allison Kohn showing off the new facility.
The new Radbill facility is on the third floor of the Mathematical Sciences Building. It features collaborative spaces for students to work with life design coaches as they design their college experience and gain tools and skills to design their life.
“What it gives us is a big, open and collaborative space. The idea is that students can come here for workshops and classes to learn about life design and design thinking. It also offers coaching spaces and space for our students to come, hang out, belong,” said Radbill Center Executive Director Adrienne Ausdenmoore.
No other program has had the level of investment that is at BGSU, said President Rodney Rogers.
“Our students are gaining the skills and tools that they need to be empowered to be successful in college, leverage the opportunities that exist in a major comprehensive university like Bowling Green and ultimately be prepared for a lifetime of careers and lead a meaningful and productive life,” Rogers said.
Radbill said that Rogers suggested the idea to him, but he was ready for that inspiration because of discussions he had with many of the students who had received scholarships that he had sponsored.
“As I learned more and more about life design I could see how it can help that student graduate and become successful,” Radbill said in an interview. “Working with the coaches, and we’ve had the opportunity to do that, and meeting the ambassadors, it has been such a thrill for me. it’s almost like a dream come true.”
During his ribbon cutting speech, Radbill talked about three interrelated initiatives necessary for the program’s future success.
“Life Design, as you all realize, cannot stand alone. Partnering with academic advising, and partnering with the Michael and Sara Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections … were totally necessary and had to happen. These three interrelated initiatives are in fact foundations for maximum student success,” Radbill said.
Ausdenmoore said the new Kuhlin Career Design and Connections center is located in the Student Union and will have its ribbon cutting on March 4.
Radbill and Michael Kuhlin’s $7.5 million donations total $13.5 million for career and life design.
The program has seven life design coaches and a dozen life design student ambassadors staffing the new Radbill facility. The life design team is planned to continue expanding.
Radbill said that he was initially just part of funding for the Life Design program, but that grew as he learned the potential benefits for the students.
“The more we learned about it we thought we really needed the building, to go hand-in-hand with the program. That’s where we ended up doing both,” Radbill said.
Radbill is a 1968 graduate of BGSU, with a degree in finance. He spent 36 years with Equitable, a financial services firm, where he retired as a senior vice president and chief operating officer of its retail distribution unit.
Over his years at the firm, Radbill said that he began to realize how lucky he was with his education and in finding several key people who helped him to successfully utilize the degree he earned.
“When I came here I was totally lost. When I came here I was 17 years old, and an average high school student, who was lucky enough to be accepted at BGSU,” Radbill said. “I had no clue what I wanted to do when I graduated.
“Through some very caring faculty, a really good faculty adviser and an administrator, that’s here today, they really helped me grow, learn, have fun and get involved in some leadership opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. I feel a lot of it was luck for me. I don’t like luck to be the way to have things happen.”
Radbill described working with many people in the business world who graduated with perfect grades — compared to his 3.0 — that didn’t get much out of their college experience and later struggled with work.
“I set my long-term and short-term goals and I was very fortunate to be able to meet them, because of what I received at BGSU and because of luck,” Radbill said.
In the years leading up to the Life Design center, Radbill would have annual meetings with the student scholarship recipients that he funded. He said he learned a lot in the roundtable discussion.
Radbill and his partner, Kohn, soon became actively involved in the design of the program and mission of the center.
“This became a natural for Jan and myself to be involved with, and to be the financiers of such a thing,” Radbill said. “It sets BGSU apart from other universities. I believe that they’re going to get on this bandwagon. Because academic success doesn’t help you out in the world, unless you also have the success of what life design can bring to the table.”