Leonard J. Samia

Leonard J. Samia, BSBA '69

Alumnus Leonard "Lennie" Samia has pledged a $10 million gift to Suffolk University founding the Bert J. Samia Scholars Program, in memory of his father, to provide critically needed scholarship assistance to current and future Suffolk University students. It is the largest single alumni gift in the University’s history and one that will provide access to a Suffolk education for hundreds of promising students.
In recognition of this gift, the University’s newest academic building at 20 Somerset Street was named the Leonard J. Samia Academic Center.

“Lennie Samia understands firsthand the power of education to lift people up,” said President Marisa Kelly. “This truly transformational gift will open doors and create new pathways to success for generations of Suffolk students to come. It will expand access to a Suffolk education for many promising students with the greatest need. We are so grateful to Lennie and his family for this extraordinarily generous gift, which will permanently link the Samia family to the success of highly capable Suffolk students for years to come.”

Samia is president and CEO of The Samia Companies, a family-owned residential and commercial real estate company. His philanthropy extends within his company through financial aid for the educational pursuits of many of his employees and their families. He started his career as a schoolteacher before achieving the highest levels of success in the real estate industry.

Commitment to the Suffolk Community

Samia earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Suffolk University, graduating in 1969. In addition to his own experience at Suffolk University, his daughters would also go on to graduate from Suffolk—Olivia earned her degree in communication and advertising in 2012, and Alexandra completed her master’s degree in business administration in 2011.

“Suffolk University has made an enormous difference in my life,” Samia said. “I would not be where I am today without my Suffolk education, and I am committed to making similar opportunities possible for others.”

“Lennie Samia truly exemplifies the Suffolk story,” said Bob Lamb, chair of Suffolk’s Board of Trustees. “In his success, Lennie has never lost touch with his roots. This University was founded on the idea of paying it forward by creating educational opportunity for others. This transformative gift is an extraordinary example of that ethic. It will make an immeasurably positive difference in the lives of deserving students. We are so very appreciative of Lennie and his passion for Suffolk University and our students’ futures.”

Building the Future—The Leonard J. Samia Academic Center

Located at 20 Somerset Street, Suffolk University's flagship academic building is on the historic Boston site of the former Metropolitan District Commission headquarters. It features team-based learning environments, specialized science classrooms, media production and editing suites, and more. The building was designed to provide students with a learning environment that connects them more closely with faculty and peers for a collaborative and interactive approach to scholarship. It also puts an increased emphasis on instruction in the sciences, in line with the University’s focus on preparing graduates for careers in the Massachusetts life sciences industry. The building earned LEED Silver certification due to the attention to sustainable design, construction and operation as a green building.

20 Somerset Street was named the Leonard J. Samia Academic Center on April 12, 2019, dedicated to recognize the transformational philanthropic leadership of Lennie, and his enduring impact on generations of Suffolk students.

Samia Academic Center opening ceremony.

Leonard J. Samia Tribute


00:11 Suffolk that's played an important part
00:13 in my life great professors taught me
00:18 all about the business world I used what
00:21 I learned and started the same--you
00:22 companies with a $500 investment
00:26 Leonard J Samia has built a deep
00:29 connection to the Suffolk University
00:30 community it is a connection built on
00:33 his years as a student at the Sawyer
00:35 Business School studying under inspiring
00:38 faculty like accounting professor
00:40 Stanley Dennis it has been built with
00:43 his wife LeAnn and their children
00:45 Alexandra Olivia and Derek who he
00:48 encouraged to follow in his footsteps at
00:50 Suffolk and it is built through his
00:53 involvement as an alumnus who graduated
00:55 fifty years ago this may this connection
00:59 is one that he and his family continue
01:01 to nurture by sharing his remarkable
01:03 legacy of hard work success and
01:06 generosity Lennie Samia is driven and he
01:11 is generous and that is why we are here
01:14 today he has taken his success and used
01:19 it to give back to others to give back
01:21 to Suffolk University and our students
01:23 and I am incredibly incredibly grateful
01:26 for his engagement with this University
01:30 Lenny is very loyal to Suffolk
01:32 University and he gives back and his
01:34 back a lot years ago
01:37 Lenny recognized that students potential
01:39 often requires Aid and he responded by
01:42 endow a scholarship fund always generous
01:46 in January 2018
01:48 he committed ten million dollars to
01:50 establish the birthday Samia Scholars
01:53 program in memory of his father to
01:55 support Suffolk students now and for
01:58 generations to come
02:00 see me a scholarship means so much to me
02:02 this scholarship has allowed me to come
02:04 here it's helped me a lot and I'd like
02:07 to thank you mr. Samia for helping me
02:09 and other students get to college
02:11 without the support and the help of the
02:14 same scholarship I probably wouldn't
02:17 have been able to attend Suffolk
02:18 University with it it's made me have
02:20 such a great experience and so this
02:22 scholarship is the reason why I'm here
02:25 Lenney has made a commitment to future
02:28 students to these two students being
02:30 able to come here and have journeys of
02:33 learning and education and life
02:35 experiences like he has had it's been an
02:38 amazing amazing gift Lennie Samia
02:42 understood the possibilities for suffix
02:45 growth as the university constructed a
02:47 new academic building at 20 somerset
02:49 street and he became this landmark
02:51 projects most generous individual donor
02:54 the best location you got the courthouse
02:57 right next to you at the State House up
02:58 the street you get the McCormack
02:59 building gig at the federal quarters and
03:01 I mean it's a great location for the
03:03 students it's a big I remember the first
03:05 time walking into this building and I
03:06 went wow it's very open and I think one
03:09 of the big things it reminds me
03:11 campus stands beyond just a physical
03:13 contest looking out the window you can
03:15 see some of the companies that our
03:17 students do the internships and MGH is
03:18 not very far for me a lot of my students
03:20 are doing rotations there we have this
03:22 great views of the city and how
03:24 fortunate we are to be in this space in
03:27 Boston the future of Suffolk is
03:29 definitely reflected in this building
03:31 it's bringing everybody together in one
03:32 space it's bring us closer to the
03:34 business school it's really a more
03:39 thoughtful approach to how we're doing
03:40 things this building is a core academic
03:46 building it sits in the center of our
03:48 campus in the center of this vibrant
03:50 city and the courses that are taught
03:53 here are courses that represent a range
03:57 of disciplines and represent our
03:59 educational model Lennie's 10 million
04:02 dollar contribution made Suffolk history
04:05 as the largest single alumni gift
04:07 the university has ever received
04:10 probably the kind of support that we've
04:12 received from many semia was a long way
04:14 towards making the dreams of a lot of
04:16 these students possible we have students
04:18 who are juggling a lot in clinic they're
04:20 in classes they might be working nights
04:21 and weekends Lennie's gift sends a
04:24 strong message to our entire community
04:26 that Suffolk remains focused on students
04:29 focused on giving access and opportunity
04:32 to students who otherwise would not have
04:34 had those opportunities the impression
04:37 Lenny Samiha has made on this university
04:39 is a lasting one and it is fitting that
04:42 a place where students come together to
04:44 realize their potential will now bear
04:47 the name of a benefactor who recognizes
04:49 that potential and helps nurture it to
04:51 fruition the entire Suffolk University
04:54 community is grateful for Lenny's
04:57 transformational philanthropy it is with
05:00 great pleasure that today we name xx
05:03 Somerset the Leonard J Samia academic
05:06 center Thank You Mr. Samia for
05:09 absolutely everything a big shout-out to
05:12 you Mr. Samia Thank You Lenny thank
05:15 you your gift is amazing
05:18 it's generous it makes a difference
05:20 Lenny thank you
05:34 you

Academic Center Dedication Day

A History of Giving and Involvement