Business leaders and loyal Suffolk University alumni Michael and Larry Smith and Leonard Samia recently stepped forward with leadership gifts in support of the University’s new 20 Somerset St. academic building, which is slated to open in fall 2015.

Smiths’ generosity widespread

The University will name the dining hall in its new academic building for distinguished alumni and brothers Michael Smith and Larry Smith in recognition of their $1.1 million gift. The Smiths are co-founders of the Nation Safe Drivers Group in Boca Raton, Florida. The gift also will help underwrite travel and uniform costs for Suffolk student-athletes. The University will acknowledge the Smiths’ generosity to the athletics program by adding their names to the floor of the Regan Gymnasium.

In addition, a portion of the gift will continue to support the Smiths’ endowed scholarship, which was established in memory of their friend, Pvt. Sheldon R. Cohen, who served in Vietnam. The scholarship offers financial assistance to a graduate of Chelsea (Massachusetts) High School attending Suffolk University. Their previous support also provided for the creation of an executive case discussion room in the University’s Sawyer Business School. The brothers received bachelor of science in business administration degrees from Suffolk and are major contributors to the school’s advancement efforts.

Samia family legacy

Samia of Lexington has pledged a generous gift in his family’s name to support the construction of eight lobbies in the new academic building. The gift, totaling $775,000, recognizes the Samia family legacy at Suffolk University.

Samia received a bachelor of science degree in business administration; daughter Olivia graduated in 2012 with a degree in communications and advertising; daughter Alexandra earned a master’s degree in business administration in 2011; and son Derek is a student in the Sawyer Business School. Samia established the Bert J. Samia endowed scholarship in his father’s name in 2007 to support the financial needs of five deserving Sawyer Business School entrepreneurship or management majors annually. The Samia Companies LLC, a diversified real estate firm in Brighton, is a family-owned business with commercial and residential properties in and around Boston, New Hampshire and Louisiana.

“Accolades to Michael, Larry and Leonard for the lead they have taken to enable another important step forward for Suffolk,” said University President Norman Smith. “They are giants that set the bar and make success achievable. I am glad that their names will be heralded at 20 Somerset. The University is very lucky to have their support and friendship.”

Said John Nucci, the University’s senior vice president for External Affairs: “I also want to acknowledge these and other generous donors for supporting this new academic building. They understand the importance of 20 Somerset to meeting the learning needs of today’s students. Their support helps make the project a reality, and we look forward to adding yet more names to the building.”