Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust Commits $10.5 Million to Case Western Reserve University

Challenge grant seeks to attract more funders for University Center project

The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust has announced a $10.5 million gift to Case Western Reserve University to support the university center project. The gift includes a $500,000 grant from the Vincent K. and Edith H. Smith Memorial Trust.

The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust, formerly the 1525 Foundation, was established in 1971 as an anonymous gift-giving entity by Kent Hale Smith and his wife, Thelma, who died in 1980 and 2007, respectively. Kent Smith was co-founder of Lubrizol Corp. and served as acting president of the Case Institute of Technology from 1958 to 1961.

"We wanted to make a contribution to student life consistent with the level of dedication that Kent and Thelma showed for the institution throughout their lives," said Phillip A. Ranney, trustee of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust. "Kent had an open-door policy for students when he was acting president, and Thelma used to visit campus several times a week to watch the students in their daily lives. They would both be very pleased to see this project take shape."

The challenge grant's intent is to help attract other donors to this catalytic project, which was announced last May with a lead $20 million gift from the Veale Foundation to name the center for its founder, Case Institute of Technology alumnus Tinkham Veale II.

"Kent was a spirited volunteer fundraiser throughout his years of service to the university, so it is particularly appropriate that this gift be given as a challenge to encourage other donors to step up and make this project a reality," said William B. La Place, trustee of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust.

Kent Smith was the eldest of three brothers who helped co-found Lubrizol Corporation in Wickliffe, Ohio, in 1928. He and his brothers, A. Kelvin and Vincent, began by mixing oil additives in their mother's large cooking pot in a garage in Cleveland. Later, they continued their chemistry education in the laboratories of what was then Case Institute of Technology (CIT). They were also inspired by their father, A.W. Smith, a chemistry professor at CIT who co-founded Dow Chemical Co. with friend Herbert Dow in 1897.

"We are honored to receive this support from a foundation that bears the name of such an esteemed graduate," President Barbara R. Snyder said. "Kent Smith's achievements as a scientist, businessman and acting university president are all inspirational. It is our hope that the university center will serve to uplift students, as well."

The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust is a long-time donor to the university. Its previous support includes the Kelvin Smith Library, Kent Hale Smith Professors at the Case School of Engineering, the Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Chair in Ethics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Kent Hale Smith Building, which houses the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering.

To learn more about the university center project, visit

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Webcam over the University Center

Want to follow construction progress? Tune into the Tinkham Veale University Center webcam.

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Virtual walkthrough of university center

The university center will serve as the new home of more than 160 student organizations. Watch Undergraduate Student Government's narrated virtual "walkthrough" video of the building's interior.