Former Falcons QB investing in the future of Kennesaw State Athletics

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 1, 2024

Steve Dils and Char Fortune
Steve Dils and Char Fortune
Steve Dils’ final stop in a 10-season career as a National Football League quarterback was with the Atlanta Falcons, where the city’s friendly people and warm climate captivated him, sparking his choice to stay and start a business career when his playing days ended.

“The easy decision would have been to move back to the West Coast where I had spent most of my life,” said Dils, who grew up in Washington, played college football at Stanford and in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams. “Of all the places I had lived previously I found this the easiest to become part of a community. It ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”

Dils, who earned a degree in economics, built a successful career as a commercial real estate executive in Atlanta, building upon the off-season work in that sector he had done during his NFL career.

The decision to live and work in Atlanta also eventually led Dils to a relationship with Kennesaw State University to serve as a member of the KSU Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“Connie Engel, my wife’s best friend and someone we have great respect for, was chair of the KSU Foundation board at that time and she asked me if I would be interested in joining,” he said. “As we talked about KSU and how enthusiastic she was about the university and the students I decided that it would be something I could get excited about, too.”

Dils, who serves as chair of the KSU Foundation Real Estate Committee and his wife, Char Fortune, have also made substantial financial investments in Kennesaw State, Dils’ adopted university. They have recently decided to give two gifts totaling $150,000 to The Campaign for Kennesaw State for athletics.

“We have become big believers in KSU and especially with the leadership at the University,” Dils said. “Given my background, I just have a heart for athletics and the positive impact it can have on the players, students, and the community. I think the athletic teams, especially the football team, have done a fantastic job of excelling despite their facilities being scattered around campus. But to stay competitive as they move into Conference USA they need improved facilities, and we wanted to play some small part in that.”

The Campaign for Kennesaw State is seeking to raise $200 million by 2027 and features several projects for athletics facilities, including a proposed sports performance complex near Fifth Third Stadium, and an adjoining sports medicine center.

Dils said athletics is a beneficial part of the college experience, not only to the student athletes, but also to the rest of the student body, faculty, staff and the wider community.

At a 25th anniversary class reunion at Stanford, in a memory book that was shared with participants many of the comments centered around how much class members had enjoyed attending football games.

“That made an impression on me,” Dils said. “Obviously, having played football at Stanford was a major part of my experience, but the comments told me that for all students college is more than just about classes and graduation.”

– Gary Tanner

Photos by Judith Pishnery

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 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