The Hunter Smith Family Foundation has given The University of Virginia’s College at Wise a $10 million gift, the largest in the College’s history. This gift will be matched by UVA’s Bicentennial Fund program bringing the total to $20 million for UVa-Wise students. The $20 million endowment will provide significant access to scholarships for more than 100 qualified students each year.
The Carl W. Smith Bicentennial Scholar Scholarships, named after Hunter J. Smith’s late husband, will make a UVa-Wise education possible for many students, especially those in central and southwestern Virginia communities, and will help UVa-Wise grow its enrollment. The scholarship program will commence immediately to qualified high school and community college students who plan to attend UVa-Wise in the 2018 fall semester.
UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry made the announcement Monday during a holiday gathering of faculty and staff. She explained that the Hunter Smith Family Foundation’s gift, which includes a match by the University of Virginia’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund Matching Program, will fund the Wise Scholars and the Chancellor’s Scholars programs. The gift also establishes the Carl W. Smith Bicentennial Scholar-Athlete Program, which would be available for student athletes from Virginia and beyond.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Hunter Smith Family Foundation have always been exceptionally kind to UVa-Wise,” Henry said. “The generous gift we received today gives us the opportunity to make the dream of a college education possible for hundreds of students for years to come. In many cases, these scholarships could be the deciding factor for many deserving high school and community college transfer students who worry that a four-year college degree is out of their financial reach.”
“UVa-Wise has always been a special place for Carl and me”, said Hunter Smith. “It is my hope that this scholarship program will provide additional incentive for many high quality students right here in Virginia, to continue their education at this wonderful college.”
“Hunter Smith, along with her late husband Carl, has been a tremendous friend and advocate for the University of Virginia for many years,” said UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan. “At UVA, the Smiths have supported our athletics programs, the arts, the Cavalier Marching Band, and numerous other programs. With this generous gift to UVa-Wise, Mrs. Smith will make a great college education possible for many students, regardless of their families’ financial situations.”
The Wise Scholars Program will provide financial support for tuition and fees to deserving and qualified students from Southwest Virginia and Central Virginia, which would include Clarke, Warren, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Orange, Louisa, Goochland, Powhatan, Amelia, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Southhampton and all counties and cities west of these areas. A limited, one-time award may also be made to support approved undergraduate research, internships, or study abroad experiences for these students.
The Chancellor’s Scholars Program is merit based and will provide financial support to students from any part of Virginia, and for STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health science) students who participate in undergraduate research and study abroad projects.
Both programs incorporate a community service component to encourage a strong foundation of leadership with a commitment to give back to the communities in which they will live and work. Students who receive the Wise Scholars and Chancellor’s Scholars awards must volunteer a minimum of 20 hours of community service each academic year. Community service projects may include an internship or research project.
“One of the missions of UVa-Wise is to graduate students who become leaders in their communities,” said Marcia A. Gilliam, chair of the UVa-Wise College Board. “Students who engage in undergraduate research, participate in study abroad programs, and gain valuable experience in internships develop those leadership skills. We are grateful to Hunter Smith for the generous gift, and we know it will change lives for many generations.”
The Carl W. Smith Bicentennial Scholar-Athlete Fund will provide scholarships to support student athletes who are in good academic standing and who maintain athletic eligibility standards for progress toward a degree. The scholarship amounts will vary.
Smith, a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, and her late husband have been major benefactors of UVa-Wise for more than three decades. Their previous gifts have supported the Carl W. Smith Stadium, the Lila Vicars Smith House, the Marching Highland Cavaliers and the Hunter J. Smith Dining Commons.
The University of Virginia’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund Matching Program was established by the Board of Visitors to match private gifts to the University of Virginia and its College at Wise for endowed scholarships. The scholarships endowments will be invested through the University of Virginia Investment Management Company and will provide annual awards to students into perpetuity.