GW students returned to campus this fall to find the new Kogan Plaza, a wide-open space in the middle of campus.
But who is Kogan?
“When I came by the other day, I walked through the plaza and went up to people and said `Who is this guy? What is this?'” Barton Kogan said with a laugh.
Kogan, who donated $500,000 for the plaza, began his GW education in 1965. Growing up in New York, Kogan said he wanted to attend a college with an urban campus.
“My experience at GW was that there was no open space except what, at the time, was a very cluttered University Yard,” Kogan said. “I wanted a city campus, but this was just a bit a sparse.”
Kogan, an active alumnus of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, initially became involved in donating to the University through his work with the fraternity. His activity with Kappa Sigma put him in touch with Joe Hall, associate vice president for Development, who began proposing ways for Kogan to help the University with various projects.
“He didn’t hit any hot buttons until the Mid-Campus Quadrangle project,” Kogan said. “Whenever you’re dealing with bricks and mortar, whatever donation you give goes into the cost of building the building. But with the open air space, the money goes for tuition relief because it certainly isn’t going to cost anywhere near my donation.”
Two years after he became involved with the project, Kogan said he is pleased with the final product. He has provided GW students with one of the things that was missing during his years at the University.
“I’ve always felt that giving back is a good thing,” Kogan said. “If something is a good experience, then you want to give back so other people can enjoy that experience too.”
Kogan remembers his years at GW with fondness. Living in D.C. during the height of the tumultuous 1960s, Kogan recalls students who traveled hundreds of miles to participate in protests against the Vietnam War.
He received his bachelor’s degree in business management in 1969 and his master’s degree in counseling from the University the following year. After graduation, Kogan worked for Continental Telephone Corporation. When the company relocated to Bakersfield, Calif., Kogan followed.
But Kogan said he owes his grandmother for his financial success. In 1972, he received a cash gift of $25,000 from his grandmother and decided to buy an apartment building in Bakersfield with the money. When he sold the building and realized his profit from the sale was three times his annual salary with the phone company, he decided real estate management was a better choice of profession.
He moved to Los Angeles and formed his own company, BHK Management, an apartment development and management company. Now, 30 years after his graduation from GW, the 52-year-old Kogan has sold his business and is happily retired.