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MSU celebrates life of legendary leader and diplomat

March 7, 2016

Friends, family, colleagues and admirers of a legendary Mississippi State leader and diplomat who was esteemed around the world gathered Saturday [March 5] to remember János Radványi.

The former Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. who joined the MSU history faculty in the early 1970s and founded MSU's Center for International Security Strategic Studies and Executive Leadership Forum died on Jan. 11 at the age of 93. Following a funeral mass Saturday, the university hosted a reception to celebrate "a remarkable life" and to offer condolences to his family. He is survived by his daughter Julianna Radványi-Szűcs of Budapest, Hungary; son János Radványi Jr. of Soquel, California; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Radványi had been part of the Bulldog family for 44 of his esteemed 93 years, and that the university is proud to celebrate the life of such an influential leader. After he earned his doctorate degree in history from Stanford University, with all the things he had accomplished, and all of his worldly contacts, relations with world leaders, diplomats, military leaders, accomplished individuals – he could have lived and thrived and been successful anywhere on this planet. But he chose to make Starkville, Mississippi, his home and to be part of this great university," Keenum said. "It was through his time here at Mississippi State that he truly left a legacy."

Keenum said Radványi brought world leaders to campus and to the state capital.

"What a remarkable thing it was to have a man with that vision focused on world peace, and that makes me feel so proud that he was a part of our family," Keenum added. "He's done a great deal, not only for our university, our state and our nation, but for the world, and not very many people can say that."

A letter from Gov. Phil Bryant to the Radványi family was read during the program by Jon Rezek, MSU interim associate vice president for international programs and interim executive director of the International Institute. Bryant said the family's loss also is a loss to the State of Mississippi, which Radványi served for more than four decades.

"Radványi proved he was a true pioneer in strengthening ties between his dear homeland Hungary, the United States, and especially the State of Mississippi. His courage, commitment to work for peace, and devotion to pursuing the dream of globalization are an inspiration to us all," Bryant said.

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman read an official proclamation that declared March 5, 2016 "shall be known as Dr. János Radványi Day in the City of Starkville for the significant contributions of Dr. Radványi, and that he be forever remembered with much honor for his service to the City of Starkville."

MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw also gave remarks to share his own personal experiences and reflections.

"I soaked up all of the opportunities that I could to be able to spend time with Dr. Radványi. To be such a legacy, he was also one of the most humble men that I've ever met," Shaw said.

"Dr. Radványi had a tremendous vision for the way he wanted to impact Mississippi State University and the State of Mississippi. Early on, he envisioned creating the Executive Leadership Forum that brought leading political and policy figures to the State of Mississippi to meet with key business and government leaders in Jackson, but also here on campus at Mississippi State," he said.

Shaw explained that the university will always remember Radványi for his tremendous contributions, but administrators also plan to grow his legacy through the Radványi Chair in International Security Studies.

Memorial donations may be made to the "Dr. János Radványi Memorial Scholarship" fund through the MSU Foundation at P.O. Box 6149, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or online at msufoundation.com.

Written by Allison Mathews.