Houston Couple Gives $6 Million to Engineering, Football
Simmons recognized the couple’s support of engineering scholarships at the university, as well as his service on the college’s advisory council, and on the university’s campaign cabinet.
“This generous endowment will provide the opportunity to make great strides in the development of intellectual capital and cutting-edge research,” Simmons said.
Jack Hopper, dean of the college of engineering, said: “Dan Smith has been a long-time huge supporter of the college of engineering in many ways. This generous endowment will provide the opportunity to make great strides in the chemical engineering department. This gift will give the department a high profile across the nation because of the name recognition of Dan Smith.”
There are fewer chemical engineering programs in the U. S. than other engineering disciplines, Hopper said. Very few “have the distinction of being named due to very generous philanthropic endowments of their graduates.”
Lamar’s chemical engineering department is home to the university’s first Ph.D. program and its growth has generated new construction on campus, a $7.8 million project adjacent to the Cherry Engineering Building that will begin construction this summer.
Smith, a 1969 graduate of the College of Engineering, was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Lamar in 2003.
“The importance of education has been there all along,” said Smith, who described himself as having grown up in a “wealthy” Port Arthur family “wealthy in the belief that education was very, very important.”
“My mother was a lifetime educator – the first of four educators in the family,” he said referring to his sisters, who, like their husbands, are all Lamar graduates. “I’ve been very fortunate, and part of being very fortunate is to give back. That is what today is all about.”
Lamar has been through some tough times, Smith said, “but it’s moving now like it’s never moved before. Just to be part of that is very, very exciting for us. What Jack has done with this department has been fantastic. The growth rate is great. I’d put Lamar engineering graduates up against anybody from any university.”