University Celebrates Philanthropic Alumni

Benefactors Michael and Larry Smith attribute their success to the Suffolk experience

While it has been more than five decades since they graduated, Larry and Michael Smith look back at their Suffolk University education with pride and appreciation. The two brothers say the learning experience they received at Suffolk played a significant role in their success and in their lives.

“I remember taking this course that taught me about finance, real estate and insurance,” said Michael, BSBA ’61. “It gave me the skills I needed to start my career.”

“If it wasn’t for Suffolk, I don’t know if Mike and I would have accomplished everything that we have,” said Larry. BSBA ’65.

Students, faculty and staff from across the Suffolk community gathered on the first floor of the Ridgeway Building recently for the dedication of the Michael and Larry Smith Fitness Center and to honor the distinguished alumni and successful businessmen for the latest in a history of generous philanthropy to the University.

Promoting health & wellness

“The Smith brothers are having a transformative impact on Suffolk,” said Acting President Marisa Kelly. “The new fitness center not only promotes the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff, but it promotes the community as well. We are grateful for the ongoing generosity of the Smith family.”

During the ceremony, Board Chair Robert Lamb brought greetings from the Board of Trustees, and Kelly presented each of the Smiths with a framed Suffolk jersey and a signed student “thank you” plaque.

The 5,800-square-foot Smith Fitness Center at 148 Cambridge St. offers 26 cardio machines, including treadmills, elliptical trainers, and spin bikes, under a 13-foot ceiling. It has 1,200 square feet of heavy lifting space with free weights and benches and 10 units of circuit training equipment. A group-fitness room is available for yoga and Zumba classes, and the all-purpose center includes changing rooms and shower areas.

“This facility is the cornerstone of our athletics department for the benefit of everyone in the Suffolk community,” said Director of Athletics Cary McConnell. “It is one that we can be proud of, and it is important to Suffolk on so many levels – from the health and wellness of our students to the training of our student-athletes to recruiting and enrolling students.”

Speaking on behalf of student athletes, senior Sydney Littlefield thanked the Smiths for their support and what the new fitness center means for current and future students.

“I work out in the center every day before or after practice, so this place is perfect,” said Littlefield, a marketing major and member of the women’s volleyball and softball teams. “I hope to become successful so I can give back to Suffolk someday.”

Senior Sean Walsh, president of the Student Government Association, thanked the Smiths for their generosity on behalf of the entire student body and noted that the center has become a popular campus spot for students from all three schools, with 8,200 card swipes since its Aug. 30 opening.

Suffolk role models 

“It’s really phenomenal how much use the center has gotten so far,” said Walsh, who is a double major in government and economics. “This facility is far and away an outstanding asset for the school. The Smiths are role models for Suffolk students and Suffolk involvement.”

The Smiths, co-founders of Nation Safe Drivers in Boca Raton, Florida, were in the auto club and insurance industry for more than 50 years. Their leadership and philanthropy have made a tremendous impact on Suffolk over the years, including the creation of an executive case discussion room in the Sawyer Business School, and an endowed scholarship in memory of their friend, Pvt. Sheldon R. Cohen, who served in Vietnam.

The Smith brothers’ commitment to Suffolk includes supporting the University’s newest academic building, 20 Somerset Street, and subsidizing travel and uniform costs for Suffolk athletes. In recognition of the Smiths’ exceptional generosity, the dining hall at 20 Somerset Street has been named in their honor and the floor of the gymnasium now bears their names.

“We are very happy to give back,” said Larry Smith, who recently was elected to the University’s Board of Trustees. “We want future generations of Suffolk students to have the same opportunities that we had.”

“We are true Suffolk fans,” said Michael Smith. “We bleed blue and gold.”