MARTIN, Tenn. – Dr. Robert and Ramona Smith, of Franklin, Tenn., recently supported the University of Tennessee at Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program with a $250,000 deferred gift. Smith, president-emeritus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, was a co-founder of WestStar and served as the program’s executive director from 1990 until his departure from UT Martin in 1999.
“We strongly believe our communities and our region will respond to inspired leadership,” Smith said. “We see that the people involved with WestStar – whether as alums, trustees, friends or staff – are dedicated to improving West Tennessee, and we felt it was important to provide some tangible way to assure their work is made possible.”
WestStar was founded with the goal of bringing like-minded community and civic leaders together to focus on issues facing West Tennessee and to create a network of individuals to advocate for the resources needed to improve local communities. WestStar boasts 710 graduates since its inception and oversees three major leadership summits and two youth leadership summits annually, in addition to the seven-month leadership program.
“The Smiths represent the very best in that they are choosing to support a unique, community-based program linking the university with stakeholders throughout the region. Doing so helps ensure the success and sustainability of WestStar as a premier leadership program,” said Dr. Tom Rakes, UT Martin chancellor.
“The vision and foundation established by Dr. Smith and others has created this wonderful mechanism for economic development and social engagement across West Tennessee,” added Charley Deal, WestStar executive director. “This gift will allow us to address the changing regional landscape and continue to develop a premier leadership program recognized throughout the United States.” Deal and longtime program coordinator Virginia Grimes continue to direct the program, which is entering its 26th year.
Smith was recognized by Rakes in October 2014 as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for University Service, presented annually to an individual whose contributions enable the university to meet its mission of service to the region.
For more information regarding the WestStar Leadership Program, visit www.utm.edu/weststar.
MAKE GIFT TO WESTSTAR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM – Dr. Robert and Ramona Smith, of Franklin, Tenn., recently supported the University of Tennessee at Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program with a $250,000 deferred gift. Smith, president-emeritus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, was a co-founder of WestStar and served as the program’s executive director from 1990 until his departure from UT Martin in 1999. Pictured with the Smiths is Charley Deal (left), WestStar executive director and UT Martin assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations.