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Smiths Increase Gift to $10 Million for Integration of Information Technology and Business Education at Bentley College

January 4, 2000


WALTHAM, MASS.- Thirteen months ago, Bentley College held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Norman S. and Lida M. Smith Academic Technology Center and celebrated a gift of $5 million from alumnus Robert F. Smith and his wife, Miriam. Since then, witnessing at close hand the depth and breadth of change at Bentley, the Smiths decided to increase their support. In March 1999, Bob and Miriam Smith doubled their gift to $10 million, once again earmarking most for the building that will bear the names of his parents.

"We have decided to announce the Smiths increased gift now because of the momentum it has created, in combination with a recent gift of $15 million from the McCallum Family Foundation," said John Collins, chairman of Bentley's Board of Trustees. "These two gifts are the largest in the history of Bentley College. As this news reaches our alumni, it is generating such excitement that we feel it is important to let everybody know about the Smiths $10 million gift now rather than wait until the official start of the next campaign."

"As e-commerce has revolutionized the world of business, Bentley College has kept one step ahead, educating undergraduate and graduate students for the environment in which they will soon be working," said Bob Smith. "Miriam and I are committed to doing all we can to help achieve that goal."

When it opens in September 2000, the Smith Academic Technology Center will combine leading-edge information technology with space to teach, learn and think creatively. Located in the heart of the campus and designed by Boston architects Goody, Clancy & Associates, the 75,000 square foot building rises up a hill and creates a bridge linking the upper and lower campuses, from Bentley's residence halls to the academic quad.

"For the past year, Bob and Miriam Smith's amazing gift has been hard at work here on campus in both highly visible and quiet ways," said Bentley College President Joseph G. Morone. "The Smith Center is a striking manifestation of everything we are striving to achieve in the integration of information technology and business education."

The Smith Center will provide Bentley students with the technology and the environment for innovative thinking and will join classroom teaching to real-world business practice. The $20 million facility will house the David and Elizabeth Hughey Center for Financial Services, including an expanded Trading Room, nearly triple the current size. It will also contain 20 high-tech classrooms, seminar rooms, and the new home of the Computer Information Systems department.

All classrooms will be wired to handle the latest technology as it comes on the market. Each will offer access to the college network and the Internet via video projection, broadband TV, and in-room computers or laptops. Custom designed podiums with touch-screen capability will enable faculty members to control the lights, web page projection or stop-action while using a CD-ROM, for instance. An internal "main street" flows from one level to the next, and a three-story glass wall will permit natural light and open to views to the tree-lined green space beyond.

"Staying ahead of the competition in the use of technology is a crucial part of every industry of which I have been a part," says Bob Smith, a 1953 graduate of Bentley College who has spent the bulk of his career in corporate finance. "Bentley launched my career by giving me the tools I needed back in the fifties. Now it is our obligation to give current graduates that same powerful advantage."

After Smith graduated from Bentley, he began a 28-year career at General Electric. He was chief financial officer for international business at GE when he left the company, in 1981, for American Express. After six months as senior vice president and treasurer, Smith became CEO of American Express Bank. During his tenure there, he is credited with streamlining and modernizing operations, dramatically increasing the bank's international competitiveness and profitability.

In 1992, Smith launched a second career that melded his financial expertise with a lifelong passion for automobiles. As co-founder of Car Component Technologies, he helped the Bedford, New Hampshire-based company become the world's largest remanufacturer of front-wheel drive axles for cars and light trucks. In February 1999, a majority share of the business was sold. Smith and his son continue to manage the business and have retained a significant minority ownership position.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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