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Benefactor of University Center and Virginia Campus Dies
December 29, 2009
The man whose generosity launched the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus has died. Philanthropist and GW Trustee Emeritus Robert H. Smith, who died in December at age 81, donated the first 50 acres for the campus. He had envisioned a development in Loudoun County anchored by a university. He approached The George Washington University to be that university.
In 1990, when Smith was president of Charles E. Smith Construction Inc. and general partner of Washington Engineering Associates, he presented Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, then president of GW, with the landmark gift. This land was part of a 576-acre tract know as North Bles Farm. Exploration Hall opened to students in the fall of 1991.
Smith, together with his father, Charles E. Smith, was a generous supporter of GW. In February 2008, he donated $10 million toward the renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center, marking the largest single donation in the University's history. The Charles E. Smith Center, named for Robert Smith's father, had been dedicated in 1976.
The Smith Hall of Art in GW's Academic Center is named for Robert Smith and his wife Clarice, an alumna and former GW faculty member.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928, Smith moved with his family to Washington, D.C. He graduated from Anacostia High School in 1946, and from the University of Maryland in 1950.