C. Ray Smith’s Impact Lives On: UVA Darden Dedicates Renovated Alumni Hall

By David Buie-Moltz

Dean Scott Beardsley

On a day of celebration, gratitude and reflection, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business community gathered recently to dedicate the newly renovated C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall.

Dean Scott Beardsley proudly welcomed everyone, especially Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58), his wife Phyllis and their family. Smith, a distinguished educator, administrator and visionary leader, played a foundational role in advancing the Darden School during its first decades.

“I think it’s only appropriate that we name this building, the alumni hall, in your name because I can’t think of anybody at Darden who knows more alumni than you and has made a bigger difference in more people’s lives,” Beardsley said.

Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58) in the classroom. Date unknown.
Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58) in the classroom. Date unknown.
Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58) in the classroom. Date unknown.
Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58) in his office. Date unknown.

The renovation of Smith Hall, formerly mostly hotel rooms for the old UVA Inn at Darden and a bookstore, is now a vital component of the Darden Grounds Master Plan and the Powered by Purpose campaign. It houses academic, administrative and programmatic spaces to support alumni engagement, online learning, executive education and lifelong learning, helping to expand the School’s global brand and influence. The building is also home to the Marjorie R. and Frank M. Sands Sr. Institute for Lifelong Learning and Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning, as well as the Darden School Foundation.

In addition to the functional improvements, the renovation helped Smith Hall achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It also offers a picturesque entryway to the forthcoming Japanese Garden, a scenic outdoor space for meetings or quiet contemplation that connects Smith Hall, the soon-to-open Forum Hotel and all of UVA’s North Grounds.

The transformation of Smith Hall was made possible by the generosity of the late Frank Sands Sr. (MBA ’63), who spurred the renovation with a $7.2 million matching challenge, and the Red Gates Foundation, created by the estate of the late Hunter Goodwin (MBA ’95), which contributed $5 million towards the project. Beardsley thanked all donors and unveiled a donor wall inside the building to honor their contributions.

Franks Sands speaking

Frank Sands (MBA ’94)

During the ceremony, Frank Sands (MBA’ 94), incoming chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, shared heartfelt stories of how Smith touched the Sands family’s and countless others’ lives. He recounted how Smith advised and encouraged his father, who eventually founded an investment management firm, and how Smith’s mentorship continued with Frank himself when he attended Darden.

“Over the last few decades, including today and just a few minutes ago, I have heard many stories from other Darden students, faculty and staff of C. Ray advising, helping and encouraging them,” Sands said. “And, of course, what C. Ray was really doing was loving them and loving this institution.”

Bill Sihler speaking

Professor Emeritus Bill Sihler

Professor Emeritus Bill Sihler spoke of Smith’s entrepreneurial spirit and involvement in launching executive programs at the School, such as the successful “Management of Corporate Resources” and “Financial Management for the Non-Financial Manager” programs.

Tony Smith (MBA ’87), C. Ray Smith’s son and a Darden lecturer, emphasized the importance of community in his father’s life. He shared stories of his father’s genuine interest in the lives of everyone at Darden, from staff to students, creating a sense of unity and belonging.

Tony Smith speaking

Tony Smith (MBA’ 87)

“Today, we have all of our databases, and we can Google and ask Siri,” Tony Smith said. “But if you want to know anything about Darden students, alumni, faculty and staff from four decades, just ask C. Ray. He knows it. And so, this building is such a special place for us.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
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