A Simple Way to Make a Big Impact
CUA Trustee Emeritus Van Smith recollects offering the University's then president, Rev. William Byron, S.J., the option of receiving a future $1 million life insurance policy or the available premium in cash. Smith remembers Father Byron responding with a smile and saying, "We'll take the policy and pray for your good health."
Smith's association with Catholic University began with his service on the University's Board of Regents (1986-90) as the chair of the development committee. He served on the Board of Trustees (1990-2003) as vice chair (2001-2002) and as interim chair (2002-2003). Among his many contributions to Catholic University, Smith participated in the establishment of the American Cardinals Dinner in 1989, an annual black-tie fundraiser that benefited scholarship programs at the University for 26 years.
Van met his wife, Margaret, through mutual friends. They were married in 1960 and have five children and 19 grandchildren. Margaret Smith graduated from Ball State University with a degree in education. She taught elementary school in Muncie, from 1956 to 1961. Van graduated from Colgate University and from Georgetown University with a J.D. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Ball State, Colgate, Indiana State, and Vincennes Universities, as well as The Catholic University of America. He is former chair of Colgate's Board of Trustees and of the Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For more than 50 years, Van Smith served as an owner and executive leader of Ontario Corporation. He is a respected and honored entrepreneur, dedicated to faith, family, and integrity.
The Smith family continues its association with Catholic University. Son Victor Smith currently serves as a CUA trustee and daughter Susan Newell serves on the CUA Columbus School of Law Board of Visitors.
Life insurance policies have been a part of Van and Margaret's philanthropic plans for many years, helping to raise their level of giving. The proceeds of their policy at CUA will endow a professorial chair in honor of Father Byron. The endowment will cover an existing faculty position rather than create a new one, and the Smiths have requested that the University determine its most pressing need for an endowed chair at the time the proceeds become payable.
Over the years Van Smith and his family have loyally supported Catholic University. With their endowment of life insurance, their legacy will continue in perpetuity.