Today, Corning Community College announces an historic gift in support of the Walter R. Smith Visiting Scholar Series. The $1 million gift from Smith’s estate is the largest from an individual in the College’s history.
“I am thankful and proud that this extraordinary individual gift will support Corning’s goal to bring world-renowned scholars, speakers, and authors to campus who will inspire thought-provoking conversations that will broaden perspectives and expose our students and members of the community to new ideas and viewpoints,” said Dr. Katherine P. Douglas, President. “Walter was always an inspiration for intellectual rigor. He is missed by the entire CCC community. It is heartening to know that his spirit, keen sense of curiosity, and thirst for knowledge will live on through the endowed series.”
The bequest will permanently endow the Walter R. Smith Visiting Scholar Series, which was launched in 2004. Speakers of note include Amory Houghton, Jr., a retired member of the House of Representatives; Carl Hayden, one of the state's most veteran education policymakers; Dr. Steven Squyres, a researcher and professor who has participated in many of NASA’s planetary exploration missions; and Dr. Sheila Ann Dean, who informed current thinking on evolution with her book, “Charles Darwin: After the Origin.”
Smith worked at the College for a half century before retiring in 2008. As a historian, Smith’s disciplinary content knowledge was deep and wide, yet his teaching of challenging material was accessible for students of all levels. His scholarly contributions included reviewing articles for numerous professional journals and interviewing notable scholars such as Robert Frost, Ralph Nader, and Buckminster Fuller. In addition, he was CCC’s representative to SUNY’s Faculty Council of Community Colleges and served as its Chair. Most recently, he was selected to receive the Outstanding Academic Citizenship Award by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) in 2014. Smith passed away on December 12, 2015.