March/April 2008

Smith and Kogod Families Commit $10 Million for Transformational Renovation of Charles E. Smith Center

The Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert and Arlene Kogod have pledged $10 million to renovate GW’s Charles E. Smith Center.

Gift Represents Largest Single Philanthropic Commitment in GW’s History

On Feb. 14, GW President Steven Knapp announced the largest single donation in the institution’s history—a $10 million gift toward the renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center from the Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert and Arlene Kogod. This lead gift will be instrumental in the transformational renovation of the 32-year-old building, located in the heart of GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus.

The University plans to raise an additional $15 million for the renovation. The first $10 million of this goal will meet the one-to-one challenge that is a condition of the Smith-Kogod families’ commitment and is designed to encourage others to support this important project.

“The Charles E. Smith Center has always been a source of pride to our family because it promotes healthy minds and bodies, as well as the spirit of community, which were hallmarks of my father’s life and work,” says Robert H. Smith, chairman of several Charles E. Smith real estate companies. “This transformational renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center will create a signature building, in both its architecture and function, in the heart of the GW campus. It furthers my father’s original vision and speaks to our commitment to GW and its future success.”

The proposed renovation will take place generally within the building’s existing structure. The University will soon present architectural concepts to GW and community stakeholders and then coordinate reviews and approvals with the appropriate District of Columbia agencies.

“I am deeply appreciative of the Smith and Kogod families for this historic gift to the University,” says Knapp. “Their leadership sets a new standard for us and further recognizes the need for world-class facilities at a world-class university. The convergence of academic, athletic, and recreational components in the transformed Charles E. Smith Center will provide a premier venue for our student-athletes that also will support their academic pursuits. Combined with other uses, the renewed Charles E. Smith Center will enhance the overall GW experience for our entire community.”

W. Russell Ramsey, B.B.A. ’81, chairman of GW’s Board of Trustees, adds, “This shining example of our new culture of philanthropy will benefit our faculty, students, alumni, and the community. I salute the Smith and Kogod families for this latest substantial investment in our University’s future. And I congratulate President Knapp who, within six months of his arrival, has now secured the largest single gift in the history of the institution. Combined with our commitment to affordability, our increased investment in research, and our overall campus plan, we are now out of the starting gate and gaining true momentum. It’s a great beginning for the new administration and a tribute to one of GW’s most important and beloved families.”

The interior upgrades will feature an academic center for student-athletes, improved general admission and club seating in the basketball arena, new locker rooms, remodeled office space to centralize athletic operations, including those currently located elsewhere on campus, enhanced athletic training and weight room facilities, and a renovated natatorium (pool area). The exterior concepts include a dynamic new main entrance along 22nd Street, which will present a revitalized box office and concession concourse, and a new VIP entrance along F Street. The project is consistent with the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan and reinforces 22nd Street as the core of the campus. The renovation project is expected to take three years, during which time the building will remain open without interruption of planned events.

The Charles E. Smith Center was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1975, replacing the “Tin Tabernacle” gymnasium and bringing a much-needed contemporary athletic facility to GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus. The building is named for the late Charles E. Smith (1901-95), nationally renowned real estate developer and leader in the Washington, D.C., community. Smith received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from GW in 1979. He served as a GW trustee from 1967 to 1976 and was chairman of the Committee on University Development. His son, Robert H. Smith, is a trustee emeritus who served on the board in 1976 and again from 1978 to 1997. David Bruce Smith, B.A. ’79, son of Robert H. Smith and grandson of Charles E. Smith, has served as a member of GW’s Board of Trustees since 2002.

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