DPU alums make $2.5 million gift to support need-based scholarship initiative

Sunday, December 1, 2013
Mike and Susan Smith

DePauw University has announced that Michael L. and Susan L. Smith have committed $2.5 million to support The DePauw Trust, a new and developing university initiative to strengthen and considerably expand the DPU's endowment dedicated to need-based financial aid.

"Mike and Sue have been among the university's strongest and most loyal supporters for many years," President Brian W. Casey said. "This gift marks their latest commitment to DePauw and to the many other causes and institutions that garner their support throughout central Indiana. I am exceptionally thankful for their love of DePauw and for the impact this gift will have on the lives of students for many years to come."

Mike Smith is a 1970 graduate of DePauw and Sue (Leet) Smith is a member of DePauw's class of 1971.

Prior to retiring in 2005, Mike served as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Anthem Inc. The Smiths were recently honored with the Outstanding Philanthropist award from the Indiana Association of Fundraising Professionals.

"Access to a high-quality college education for all Americans is one of our most critical national issues" said Mike Smith, who is also a member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

"Particularly at a liberal arts college, our campuses draw strength from the students who enroll," Smith added. "Put simply, a talented and diverse student body is essential to providing a powerful and relevant college experience. With this in mind, Sue and I view this gift as a way to ensure that a DePauw education is available to talented students from all walks of life."

"Mike and I share a deep appreciation for DePauw's efforts to attract and financially support students from very different backgrounds and circumstances," Sue Smith added. "We are delighted by the opportunity to support The DePauw Trust."

The gift from Mike and Sue Smith, which will formally establish the Michael and Susan Smith Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, is the latest extension of the university's historical commitment -- which dates to the Rector Endowment and the establishment of the Rector Scholars Program of 1919 -- of making a DePauw education available to promising students.

Mike Smith was a Rector Scholar while attending DePauw.

Recent significant gifts to DePauw from Timothy and Sharon Ubben, Dave and Suzanne Hoover and Kathy Vrabeck are part of the university's efforts to undergird student access through increases in the school's endowment.

An economics major at DePauw, Smith served as student body president as an undergraduate and has since served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Board of Visitors. He currently serves as an advisory trustee to the university.

Mike and Sue Smith are both active in the Indianapolis community. Their service is focused on eliminating inequities in public education, human services with a focus on breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty and access to quality affordable healthcare for the entire community.

Sue is currently a director of a cancer research and education foundation, Out Run the Sun, and Mike chairs the board of Eskenazi Health Foundation.

Mike also serves as chairman of the board of H.H. Gregg Inc. and is involved with several other public and private businesses as a director or advisor, including Cardinal Equity Partners, a private equity fund that he co-founded in 2008.

The Smiths recently organized and endowed an accelerated associate degree program for low-income Hoosier high school graduates, The Smith Family Scholar program at Ivy Tech Community College.

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