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MICHAEL SMITH GIVES BACK TO ALMA MATER IN A BIG WAY
by Tony Phifer
MICHAEL SMITH IS PROUD TO SAY that his success in the natural gas industry is a direct result of his Colorado State University education. So, when he opted to give back to his alma mater, he did so in a big way. A very big way.
Smith, chairman and CEO of Freeport (Texas) Liquefied Natural Gas, and his wife, Iris, have donated $13 million to CSU — a gift that will touch nearly every corner of campus and impact generations of students.
Smith’s remarkable gift creates 70 scholarships — 50 in the College of Business, 10 in the Department of Geosciences in the Warner College of Natural Resources, and 10 in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences — and helps fund the Michael Smith Natural Resources Building and the Michael & Iris Smith Alumni Center at the multipurpose on-campus stadium.
The $5 million for scholarships is the largest-ever gift for the College of Business and meant to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary.
“Michael Smith is a brilliant, visionary business leader who, with this gift, has extended that vision to Colorado State University,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “We are humbled by his generosity and profoundly inspired by what we believe this will do for our students, alumni, and academic programs. The breadth and reach of the generosity from Michael and Iris Smith is truly unparalleled, with the potential for a transformative impact on three of our top academic colleges and our new on-campus stadium currently under construction.”
Smith, who majored in chemistry and minored in mathematics at CSU, left in 1978 six credits shy of a degree “to ski.” He used his education to build a successful career in business, primarily focused on energy.
He is past president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and served on its board for more than a decade. He and Iris support numerous causes in Colorado and near their home in Florida.
CSU bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on him in 2008, citing his many contributions to the oil and gas industry, various charities, the Fort Collins community, and CSU.
“I owe much of my success to the education I received at CSU and the combination of strong science and mathematics that enabled me to learn the oil and gas business,” Smith said. “My career has been built around the opportunity this country’s energy business has spawned, and I hope my gifts help CSU to continue providing a premier education to generations of geologists, chemists, and business leaders.”