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Ohio Wesleyan Receives Multimillion-Dollar Contribution

July 12, 2007

Ohio Wesleyan University alumni Gordon V. Smith and Helen Crider Smith are making a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contribution to the university to support its planned giving initiative.

The five-year investment from the Potomac, Md., couple will support hiring staff members and helping to expand and enhance the ability of Ohio Wesleyan to reach out to potential donors. The expanded planned giving office will work with alumni and others who wish to explore long-term options for creating a legacy of support to the university.

“Ohio Wesleyan has a large group of loyal alumni who have been very supportive of the more immediate needs of the institution, but they also want to help secure the long-term health of the university through their planned gifts,” says Helen Smith, a 1956 alumna and former chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. “We think that this effort will enable the transformational giving to which so many of our alumni aspire.”

Her husband, Gordon, a 1954 alumnus, adds that people need help in creating strategic giving plans, which often involve real estate holdings, charitable gift annuities, or other complexities. “Our goal is for Ohio Wesleyan not just to provide support,” says Gordon Smith, “but to provide it at the highest level. We want to create a planned giving effort that is tops in any league.”

The Smiths are longtime supporters of Ohio Wesleyan. In addition to the planned giving initiative, they have funded a number of capital and program initiatives that benefit the school’s 1,850 students and reflect the couple’s commitment that students receive the finest liberal arts education available anywhere. Projects supported by the Smiths include the university’s scanning electron microscope, international student recruitment and support programs, a scholarship for women who show exceptional leadership, and restoration of key campus venues, such as the university’s historic Sulphur Spring.

Mark H. Shipps, vice president of University Relations at Ohio Wesleyan and a 1970 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, says the Smith gift will yield vital dividends far beyond the couple’s investment.

“Helen and Gordon are remarkable supporters of Ohio Wesleyan, visionaries in fact,” Shipps says. “Their strategic investment in the long-term future of their alma mater will be repaid many times over, and it reflects their commitment to the liberal arts and the life-changing education provided to our students. The Ohio Wesleyan family is honored by the Smiths’ continuing generosity and dedication to our mission.”

Kathe Law Rhinesmith, current chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees, says the Smiths are leaders by example.

“Helen and Gordon continue to grace Ohio Wesleyan with their wisdom and creativity. They exemplify generosity and thoughtful leadership,” says Rhinesmith, a 1964 university alumna. “Their gift will make an enduring impact upon Ohio Wesleyan, enriching the educational experience for generations of students.”

Helen Smith, an English major at Ohio Wesleyan, is a life trustee of the university and served as chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees from 1994 to 1998. She is a member of the executive committee of Opportunity International, which provides life-changing opportunities through small loans to people living in chronic poverty. She is a former chair of the board of the Wesley Theological Seminary and a board member of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, both in Washington, D.C. The Smiths and their three children also manage a family foundation that, among its many projects, supports a school to provide educational opportunities for some of the poorest children in Tanzania.

Gordon Smith, an economics major at Ohio Wesleyan, is the founder of Miller and Smith, a Virginia-based residential development firm, and serves as chairman emeritus of the board. He is a director of both CrownNorthCorp, a financial service company with operations in the United States and Europe, and BluePoint Energy, Inc., a provider of heat and power generators in Eldorado Hills, Calif. Gordon Smith also serves on the board of the Opportunity Microfinance Bank in the Philippines and is a member of Ohio Wesleyan’s Endowment Committee.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, dedicated to preparing students for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership. Located in Delaware, Ohio, 20 miles north of the state capital, Ohio Wesleyan is a coeducational, residential, privately supported undergraduate institution. The university is ranked consistently by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges and is featured in the book Colleges That Change Lives. The faculty includes more than 135 educators, all of whom actively teach and hold either doctoral degrees or the highest recognized professional degrees in their fields. Approximately 1,850 students representing 44 states and 45 countries attend Ohio Wesleyan. More information is available at www.owu.edu.