The Season of Giving

Suffolk celebrates the transformational generosity of alumni Michael and Larry Smith—and the naming of Sargent Hall’s Smith Commons in their honor
Michael and Larry Smith stand beside the Smith Commons plaque thanking them for their leadership philanthropy
The impact of Michael S. Smith, BSBA ’61, and Larry E. Smith, BSBA ’65, can be felt all over the Suffolk campus, from from Smith Residence Hall to the Smith Fitness Center and Smith Court, as well as in their extensive support for the University’s DIII athletic program and a major student scholarship.

Earlier this fall, hundreds of members of the Suffolk community came together to honor the philanthropy of Michael S. Smith, BSBA ’61, and Larry E. Smith, BSBA ’65, and to celebrate the naming of the Michael and Larry Smith Commons, located on the fifth floor of Sargent Hall.

The impact of the Smith brothers, who have given more than $7 million to the University over the years, can be felt all over the Suffolk University campus, from Smith Residence Hall to the Smith Fitness Center, Smith Court, extensive support for the University’s Division III athletic program, and a major student scholarship. Now the Commons Room—an expansive event space that overlooks the State House, the historic Granary Burying Ground, and Boston Common—will also bear their name.

“It is great to finally meet the two people whose name is literally on everything at our campus!” joked Jack McDonnell, Class of 2025, a trustee ambassador and one of the speakers at the ceremony. “On behalf of all the students and student athletes in the room, I want to thank you for your generosity and giving us the opportunities to do things that we would not be able to do anywhere else,” said McDonnell, a political science major and member of the men’s basketball team. “We hope to continue to pay forward that opportunity like you have.”

Download a video transcript [PDF].

Suffolk President Marisa Kelly and Board Chair Robert Lamb also praised the Smiths for their ongoing support of Suffolk and its students, including Student Government Association President Clinton Oreofe, who told the large audience of students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and trustees, “As a first-generation college student myself, to see that two of the top-five donors in Suffolk history were also the first in their family to go to college is something I will never forget.”

The Smiths, who grew up in Chelsea, said their strong loyalty to Suffolk grew out of the opportunities and education they received here. Now a trustee, Larry Smith came to Suffolk on a basketball scholarship, and said that without it college would have been out of reach. “Michael and I are very grateful to Suffolk University, and our success is mainly because of it,” he said. Together, the Smith brothers went on to found one of the country’s largest and most successful roadside assistance companies.

Gazing out over the packed room that now bears his name, a visibly moved Michael Smith confessed he felt “a little overwhelmed by all this. My family is here from Colorado and Florida, and my good friends from Chelsea. Tom Brady said that he’ll always be a Patriots’ fan. Well, Larry and I will always be Rams fans.”

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Images from the Smith Commons Dedication