In Memoriam: Robert H. Smith

Trustee emeritus was a generous supporter of the University.

January 04, 2010

Robert H. Smith, GW trustee emeritus and local philanthropist, died Dec. 29 at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Va. Mr. Smith was 81.

Chairman of local real estate group Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Mr. Smith was a tremendous supporter of the University. His most recent donation was $10 million in February 2008 toward the renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center, the largest single donation in the University’s history. The Charles E. Smith Center, named for Mr. Smith’s father, was dedicated in 1976. In 1983, the Smith Hall of Art in GW’s Academic Center was named for Mr. Smith and his wife Clarice, a GW alumna and former GW faculty member.

Read GW President Steven Knapp’s statement here.

Vornado/Charles E. Smith is the single largest property owner in the Washington region, with residential and office properties in the D.C. metropolitan area.

Mr. Smith also gave generously to local institutions. He and his wife supported the University of Maryland, Montpelier, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens and Gettysburg National Military Park. In 2004, Mr. Smith gave $15 million to establish the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at the new visitors center at Monticello.

An avid art collector, Mr. Smith’s world-renowned collection of European paintings and Italian bronze Renaissance sculptures will go to the National Gallery of Art. Mr. Smith is the former president of the board of the gallery, chairman of the board of governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served on GW’s Board of Trustees for 20 years. Mr. Smith’s son, David Bruce Smith, B.A. ’79, currently serves on GW’s board. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Mr. Smith the National Humanities Medal.

Mr. Smith is survived by Clarice; two children, Michelle Smith of Washington, D.C., and David Bruce Smith of Bethesda; a sister, Arlene R. Kogod of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.