The Marshall University Foundation Hall was renamed the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall last Friday in a ceremony attended by Smith, the highly successful president and CEO of Intuit, who has been described as a “generous benefactor and loyal alum” of Marshall.
The unveiling of the building and its new name occurred in conjunction with the foundation’s fifth annual Donor Recognition Dinner, which recognizes and celebrates the generosity of donors with a lifetime giving of over $100,000 to Marshall University.
Smith, a Kenova, West Virginia native, has long been a major donor to Marshall, said Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the MU Foundation. Smith graduated from MU in 1986.
“I have been involved in the field of education for more than 40 years,” Area said. “I have gotten acquainted with lots of special people but Brad Smith has those special qualities that touch your soul. There is an energy around him that challenges you to excel and add value to your work. We are honored to have his name on the Marshall University Foundation Hall.”
Smith, 50, has been president and CEO of Intuit since 2008. Intuit is a software giant that makes Quicken, QuickBooks and Turbo Tax. The company has 8,000 employees worldwide.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Smith said of what the naming ceremony meant to him. “It’s the opportunity for me and my family to give back to those who invested in me for so many years. It’s a real privilege and I hope it inspires the next generation to go out and pursue their dreams.”
He did say that he wished two more people could have attended the ceremony.
“I wish my father was here,” Smith said. “And, I wish Dr. (Stephen) Kopp was here to see this. I’m just glad my mom and my brothers were here.”
Smith has provided and pledged resources to assist the foundation’s operations and also established the Brad and Alys Smith Family Scholarship Fund.
“Brad epitomizes the foundation’s core values of diversity, pride, respect and integrity,” Area said.
Smith graduated from Ceredo-Kenova High School, were he played football until his sophomore year, when he decided to focus on martial arts rather than football. By the time he was a senior, he had earned his black belt.
Following high school, Smith was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, but decided he would return to his roots and enroll at Marshall.
At Marshall, business was the focus of his studies, but he truly excelled in marketing. Smith earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing. After graduating from Marshall, he went to work for Pepsi, moving several times before landing in Grand Rapids, Mich.
In Grand Rapids, Smith eventually earned his master’s degree in management from Aquinas College, where he attended night classes. He did well in sales management and business development at Pepsi before leaving for ADVO, the largest direct mail marketer in America. Later he excelled at ADP, one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing solutions. He then joined Intuit and began his five-year climb within the company before becoming CEO.
In 2014, when he was the featured speaker at Marshall’s commencement, he became the 169th person to receive an honorary doctoral degree from MU.
His philosophy in life is simple:
“Be true to yourself and focus on being the best you can be,” Smith said. “Always speak the truth, as you know it. If you have a point of view, don’t be afraid to share it. Stay focused on the outcome for success comes down to who’s willing to sign up for the hardest and most difficult tasks. Preserve the relationships around you. Life is a team sport.”