$13 million gift from alum for scholarships, facilities

Colorado State University today announced that Colorado State alumnus Michael Smith has made a series of donations to the university that will fund new scholarships focused on business, natural resources and chemistry, complete funding for a new natural resources building in the Warner College of Natural Resources, and contribute to the funding of the new on-campus stadium.

Michael SmithMr. Smith is the chairman and chief executive of Freeport LNG, which is completing an LNG export facility based in the port of Freeport, Texas. Prior to Freeport, Mr. Smith was the chairman and chief executive of Basin Exploration, a Colorado-based E&P company he founded in 1981 in Fort Collins and sold to Stone Energy in 2001.

‘Visionary leader’

“Michael Smith is a brilliant, visionary business leader who, with this gift, has extended that vision to Colorado State University,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “We are humbled by his generosity and profoundly inspired by what we believe this will do for our students, alumni, and academic programs. The breadth and reach of the generosity from Michael and Iris Smith is truly unparalleled, with the potential for a transformative impact on three of our top academic colleges and our new on campus stadium currently under construction.”

Mr. Smith said: “I owe much of my success to the education I received at CSU and the combination of strong science and mathematics that enabled me to learn the oil and gas business. My career has been built around the opportunity this country’s energy business has spawned, and I hope my gifts help CSU to continue providing a premier education to generations of geologists, chemists and business leaders.”

About the gift

In total, the $13 million gift will include:

  • A $5 million gift to create 50 full-tuition scholarships in the College of Business, in honor of the College’s 50th anniversary – 13 endowed Michael Smith Elite Business Scholars awards and 37 Michael Smith 50th Anniversary Scholarship awards.
  • A $3.7 million gift to complete funding to build the Michael Smith Natural Resources Building in the Warner College of Natural Resources.
  • A $3.5 million gift to the new multipurpose on-campus stadium project; the Michael & Iris Smith Alumni Center within the stadium will be home to the University’s 205,000 living alumni.
  • A $400,000 gift to create 10 full-tuition Michael Smith Scholarships in the Department of Geosciences in the Warner College of Natural Resources.
  • And another $400,000 gift to create 10 full-tuition Michael Smith Scholarships in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences.

Preliminary rendering

“We are grateful for the time and attention Michael Smith already has shared with our students, who are just in awe of his achievements and insight,” College of Business Dean Beth Walker said. “This gift is another, outstanding demonstration of his leadership and commitment to investing in the next generation of business professionals. “

Michael and Iris Smith
Michael and Iris Smith

The Michael Smith Natural Resources Building will be a new, LEED-certified facility for the Warner College of Natural Resources. The student-centric, interdisciplinary building will expand capacity for natural resources and environmental education, enhance collaborative research and policy, and amplify the Warner College’s legacy of excellence and leadership. This significant donation is the final gift needed to secure the $20 million in private and public funding support necessary to break ground.

“Michael Smith’s gift really opens the doors to the future of Warner College,” Dean John Hayes said. “It’s a powerful commitment to both exceptional learning facilities and academic excellence in the geosciences. We are deeply appreciative of his thoughtfulness and his strong belief in the importance and potential of our College.”

“This tremendous gift propels us into the future and sets us on solid footing in so many areas at CSU,” says Brett Anderson, vice president for University Advancement. “The massive impact that Michael’s incredible generosity will have on the student experience while they are here and when they become alumni is immeasurable. We want to thank him for believing in and investing in this University – and for his continued commitment to excellence for Colorado State University.”

CSU awarded Smith an honorary doctorate in 2008.
CSU awarded Smith an honorary doctorate in 2008.

About Michael Smith

Michael Smith is an energy entrepreneur whose academic and business roots are in Colorado. A CSU Chemistry major with a minor in mathematics, Smith attended Colorado State in the 1970s and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the school.

He has been extensively involved with the University in many ways over the years, including co-founding the Development Council and supporting Ram Athletics. He has many business and community affiliations throughout Colorado and a long history of philanthropic involvement including service on the boards of National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Colorado Ocean Journey, and as a member of the Colorado Governor’s Minerals, Energy, & Geology Policy Advisory Board. He is a past president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and served on its board for more than 10 years.

Preliminary rendering

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