Dr. Noah Noel Langdale Jr., president of Georgia State University from 1957 to 1988, died at Piedmont Hospital Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 of cardiac arrest. He was 87 years old.
During Langdale's 31 years as president, Georgia State College grew to become Georgia State University. Its student population went from 5,000 students with only one degree program to more than 20,000 students and over 200 programs. The school expanded the campus' facilities from only two buildings to many blocks of buildings in downtown Atlanta.
During his tenure, the school was transformed from a racially segregated institution to the most diverse institution in the University System of Georgia. He was known throughout Georgia and the region as an eloquent orator.
He is credited with building a major urban university in the heart of Atlanta.
An erudite man, Dr. Langdale could quote great thinkers from Spinozo to Walter Lippmann or discuss such concepts as "The Equity of the Universality" as glibly as he could quote dialogue from Marx Brothers movies.
He is the scion of one of South Georgia's most powerful and wealthy families, a clan of timber barons and businessmen whose clout has reached far beyond their headquarters in his native Valdosta in Lowndes County, according to a 1986 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.
Dr. Langdale was 37 when he left his law practice in Valdosta to head up Georgia State, then a college with two buildings, 5,200 students, a $1.9 million budget and offered only one degree, in business.
When he retired, the university had more than 22,000 students and 20 buildings, a budget of $118.6 million and offered 50 degrees in more than 200 fields.
Langdale, a native of Valdosta, was captain of the 1936 State Champion Valdosta High Wildcats. He graduated from the University of Alabama where he played tackle on the Crimson Tide varsity squad.
During his years at Alabama, Langdale was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Delta Chi and the Jasons Society. He was awarded the Service Trophy by his fellow students for the class year 1940-41.
At 6' 1", 235 pounds, Langdale was a starting tackle on the Alabama team that defeated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl in 1941. He became line coach of the 1942 Alabama team that defeated Boston College in the Orange Bowl.
After the 1942 season, Langdale joined the U.S. Navy and, among other assignments, served a stint in the Pacific during World War II.
While he was stationed at the Navy Supply School in Athens, Georgia, he met Alice "Wiggie" Cabaniss, whom he eventually married. Mrs. Langdale died in 2005.
He received degrees from the Harvard University School of Law and Harvard Business School, and he practiced law in Georgia for seven years.He also was a department chairman at Valdosta State College and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alabama in 1957.
In 2005, Dr. Langdale received the Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award. The award recognizes former athletes whose accomplishments since leaving the University are outstanding based on character, contributions to society, professional achievement and service.
He is survived by his son, Michael.
While I was attending GSU and working on my BS in Biology with a minor in Chem and Philosophy I had the honor of meeting Dr. Langsdale who was very pro-student. As co-President of the Mortar Board an honor society there were opportunities to converse with the then President of GSU. He retired after 31 years the year after I graduated in 1988. I will always remember his as a very kind and gentle giant of a man. He is responsible for what GSU is today as a leading university in urban studies and a top ranked business school. -JP