KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 4, 2023
In many ways, Chris and Debbie Pike feel a kinship with Kennesaw State University.
From the time Chris graduated from then-Kennesaw College in 1984, the couple has watched the University grow from humble beginnings to one of the nation’s largest suburban research institutions, all the while maintaining a mission that closely aligns with their family values.
“The people who work here have big hearts and genuinely care about student success,” Debbie said. “While the University has experienced exponential growth in recent years, it hasn’t lost sight of the importance of putting students first.”
This student-centric culture is something the Pikes have experienced first-hand through their eleven family members who have earned degrees from KSU.
Inspired by the student-first culture at Kennesaw State, the Pikes have developed their own culture of giving by becoming influential members of the KSU community. As trustees for the KSU Foundation and major philanthropic supporters, their servant leadership and generous gifts have contributed to student and programmatic success across the institution.
Over the years, the Pikes have endowed three scholarships rooted in personal connections and the desire to make students’ lives easier. More recently, the Pikes committed a significant personal gift, which they leveraged with corporate support to deliver a more than $500,000 impact on KSU's new baseball stadium project. For their generous leadership, the stadium’s concessions concourse will bear their name.
Kennesaw State’s move into Conference USA promises heightened competition, and for the Owls, an enhanced stadium helps take the program to a new level.
“We want to see the University continue to succeed and grow, to become an institution recognized nationwide,” Chris said. “Enhancing our athletics facilities as we enter Conference USA will make the University more recognizable across the country, encouraging more students to pursue a degree and athletics career here.”
Debbie explained that a new stadium also provides the University opportunities to host events that will bring more members of the surrounding community to campus.
“You also have an immense impact on the community when you have facilities available for the community to use, from youth-oriented events and tournaments to concerts and more,” she said.
Beyond the playing field, Chris and Debbie have made significant contributions to scholarly pursuits, including two scholarships supporting Michael J. Coles College of Business students. Established to honor close family friends, the J.P. and Ruby Kemp Memorial Scholarship benefits deserving students studying professional sales. The Pike Family Entrepreneurship Endowed Scholarship financially supports students majoring or minoring in entrepreneurship.
In honor of Debbie’s parents, the John and Virginia Hughes Memorial Scholarship was also established to provide financial support to students pursuing a nursing degree in the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services.
Debbie has been instrumental in elevating Wellstar College by endowing the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Distinguished Chair in Health and Wellness with her ownership partners in the former RTM Restaurant Group.
Through their actions, the Pikes hope to establish a culture of giving within their own family and inspire the same within their circle of friends and community. Ultimately, it’s all about making a difference in a student’s life, knowing that the education and experience they receive here at KSU will make a lasting impact on the future.
“We give where we think we can have influence and impact,” Debbie said. “Giving to KSU has an impact that we can see. If what we’ve done here has helped improve students’ academic, work, or family lives, then we’ve done our job.”
– By Elyssa Reed
Photo by Darnell Wilburn
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.