Smiths continue to meet students' needs with scholarship

July 26, 2011


Larry and Kathryn Smith, longtime friends of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and its students, have endowed the Larry V. and Kathryn A. Smith Family Trustee Scholarship to support Erie County students enrolled at Penn State Behrend.


The Smiths previously donated the funding to build the Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel in collaboration with Larry Smith's parents, the late Floyd and Juanita Smith, whose gift built the Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon and corresponding bell tower. The Smith Chapel and Carillon offer Penn State Behrend students a multi-faith worship space and opportunities for spiritual growth and enrichment -- a need first identified by the college's student body in the mid-1980s.

With their most recent gift, Larry and Kathryn Smith join the list of local business owners who have created scholarships in the past year at Penn State Behrend. Specifically, this is the third Trustee Scholarship created in 2011 to support area students.

"We take pride in our college's ability to help academically talented students regardless of their families' financial situations," Dr. Don Birx, Penn State Behrend chancellor, said. "Donors realize that higher education can help break the cycle of poverty in families and communities. In particular, scholarship funding often is critical to those who are the first in their families to attend college. We thank Larry, Kathie and their family for extending this gift to the Erie community."

"It was important to us that this be a family decision, so we involved our children in the conversation about this scholarship," said Larry Smith, CEO and owner of Automation Devices, Inc., in Fairview. "We have always believed in giving back and instilled that spirit in our children as well. Our family has been blessed over the years, and we hope this scholarship will help promising students receive the financial support they need."

With the addition of the Larry V. and Kathryn A. Smith Family Trustee Scholarship, Penn State Behrend has a total of 35 trustee scholarships. During For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, Penn State Behrend's goal is to raise $32 million to support its students and has secured more than $26 million to date. The college's scholarship goal is $8.5 million; more than $6 million has been raised for scholarships since this campaign began in January 2007.

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. In this groundbreaking philanthropic model, Penn State matches 5 percent of the total pledge or gift at the time a Trustee Scholarship is created, making funds available immediately for student awards. This University match, which is approximately equal to the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, doubling the support available for students with financial need.

The Larry and Kathryn Smith Chapel and the Floyd and Juanita Smith Carillon were built in 2000 and dedicated in the summer of 2002. The chapel's worship space seats 175 and includes a 1,208-pipe organ, purchased to honor Larry and Kathryn Smith's children. The carillon is 80 feet tall and holds 48 bells, which can be played electronically or manually. Located at the base of the tower is the Dedication Chapel, which offers a place for silent prayer and meditation.

Larry and Kathryn Smith have two children and four grandchildren. The couple's son, Kevin, and his wife, Julie, were the first to be married in the Smith Chapel. They have two sons, Calvin and Evan. The Smiths' daughter, Colleen May, and husband, John, have a son, Casey, and a daughter, Kristine.

For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.


  • Larry and Kathryn Smith with the Smith Chapel and Carillon in the background.

    IMAGE: John Fontecchio

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 27, 2011