SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University has received its largest gift and biggest single bequest in its history from the estate of former Sault Ste. Marie resident Larry Regan Smart.
Through a trust, Larry Smart stated his desire to help LSSU students attain a college degree before he died in December 2013 and named LSSU as a residual beneficiary that created the Larry Regan Smart Scholarship Endowment. In establishing the scholarship, Smart and his family requested that the amount of the gift remain confidential, but LSSU Foundation staff say it will help an incredible number of students in the coming years.
“This is an extremely generous gift that will reach many students and have generations of impact at LSSU,” said LSSU President Tom Pleger. “Scholarship support is more important than ever as LSSU students are being asked to pay a greater share of their educational costs. For many of our students, access to higher education would not be possible without scholarship assistance. We are incredibly grateful and humbled by Mr. Smart’s generosity.”
“This is an incredible gift,” said LSSU Foundation Executive Director Tom Coates. “The effect on future students is mind-boggling to me. It will help so many young men and women pursue a college education here. It is difficult to put our gratitude into words that would adequately express our appreciation for Mr. Smart believing in LSSU and our students.”
The son of Lawrence and Marguerite (Cowell) Smart, Larry was a Sault Ste. Marie native, graduating from Sault Area High School in 1951 and attending what was then the Sault Branch of Michigan Tech for two years, later transferring to the University of Michigan, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1955. After a year of graduate work at the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, he joined the Navy OCS where he was commissioned as ensign in December 1956. He left active duty as a lieutenant after 4 ½ years of service.
Joining the New York Telephone Company, he worked through a variety of positions, ending as assistant vice president and assistant treasurer. With the advent of the breakup of the Bell Telephone System, he was assigned as director of finance for the NYNEX Corp. (now Verizon) eventually becoming corporate director of finance, where he was responsible for all finance, treasury and pension fund activities.
At 58, he retired from both NYNEX and Peter Rogers Associates, an advertising company, where he served as treasurer for 15 years concurrently with his telecommunication responsibilities. Smart was a founding director of the NYNEX Credit Company, a founding director of the First Women’s Bank of New York, and was elected to a number of honorary societies, including the Financial Executives Institute. He was featured on the cover of the Financial Dealer’s Digest in October 1987.
A conversationalist who was known for his great wit, Smart was a keen observer of world events, and an astute investor. Throughout his life, he believed in the importance of education, and as he was finalizing his trust, he said he knew naming LSSU would make a tremendous difference to Michigan’s smallest public university -- a difference that would create an everlasting legacy and change lives.
Smart said he wished to make the scholarship criteria as easy as possible for students to apply. Students may major in any course of study with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a consideration for students with financial need.
For more information on the Larry Regan Smart Scholarship and a variety of other scholarships available at LSSU, visit www.lssu.edu/foundation.
CONTACTS: Tom Pink, e-mail, 906-635-2315; John Shibley, e-mail, 635-2314; Sharon Dorrity, LSSU Foundation Office, e-mail, 635-2665.