6/2/06 Contact: Michael Tullier, 334/844-1324 (tullimj@auburn.edu)
David Granger, 334/844-9999 (grangdm@auburn.edu)


AUBURN - Wayne and Cheryl Glass Smith of Nashville, Tenn., both 1968 graduates of Auburn University, have committed $1 million to enhance current and emerging priorities within the AU College of Education.

The gift will provide resources to allow the college to achieve its mission of building better futures for all through its academic, research and outreach efforts.

AU Education Dean Frances Kochan noted that the Smiths’ gift represents the largest single donation made to the college.

“A gift this size is certainly an investment in the future of our college, and how the Smiths designated this gift allows it to be flexible in meeting the needs of both today and the future,” Kochan said. “We appreciate the chance to think creatively, albeit responsibly, in applying these resources to priorities within the college.”

Mr. Smith, who also completed a master’s in general education in 1969, has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare administration. He is chairman, president and CEO of Brentwood, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems Inc., which is the leading operator of general acute care hospitals in non-urban U.S. markets.

Before joining CHS in 1997, Mr. Smith was chief operating officer of Humana Corp., which honored his company service by establishing three titled professorships and an endowed undergraduate scholarship in the college. Mrs. Smith is a former elementary teacher and speech therapist and is now retired.

A past member of the AU College of Education’s National Advisory Council, Mr. Smith was selected as the college’s inaugural Keystone Leader-in-Residence in 2003 and its outstanding alumnus in 1995. Currently, he chairs the college’s campaign committee, a part of the university’s current $500 million “It Begins at Auburn” campaign.

“We are so grateful to the ongoing dedication the Smiths have demonstrated to our college,” Kochan said. “Wayne has not only shown our students the tremendous potential our graduates have in earning a degree in education, but has truly demonstrated a level of alumni involvement we hope all our graduates would consider in the future.”

Kochan explained why support like this is so critical to preparing future teachers and professionals.

“We live in a changing society, and education serves as the central, supporting point - the keystone - of that society,” Kochan said. “Our faculty must be adaptive in meeting the changing needs, and demands, of society on our future teachers and leaders. This gift will be instrumental in making those changes and allow us to be adaptive and flexible.”

AU interim President Ed Richardson spoke of the influence the gift will have on future giving to the College of Education and the university.

“Gifts of this significance will help this university become an exemplary educational institution,” said Richardson. “They show the positive impact private funding can have on the university.”
Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2005, the AU College of Education is home to the largest graduate enrollment at Auburn, and is consistently among the top five largest undergraduate programs on campus.

Auburn University’s largest-ever fundraising campaign is currently underway. The “It Begins at Auburn” campaign is a $500 million comprehensive campaign that will raise funds for all colleges and schools on campus as well as the Ralph B. Draughon Library, athletics, Auburn University at Montgomery and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. The campaign’s focus includes student, faculty and program endowments; facilities and equipment; campus beautification; research; and current operations.

Auburn University is a preeminent land-grant and comprehensive research institution with more than 23,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff. Ranked among the top 50 public universities nationally, Auburn is Alabama’s largest educational institution, offering more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs.

(Contributed by Michael Tullier.)