FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - Longtime benefactor Fred W. Smith has played an instrumental role in the success of the University of Arkansas and Razorback Athletics and now the chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will be honored with the naming of the first major facility being completed as part of the Razorback Athletic Facilities Master Plan.
On Thursday, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Building and Grounds committee unanimously recommended a resolution to recognize Mr. Smith's extraordinary contributions by naming the football center currently being constructed on the Fayetteville campus as the Fred W. Smith Football Center. The full Board of Trustees will formally vote on the committee's recommendation on Friday.
The 80,000 square-foot Fred W. Smith Football Center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2013. The facility, being constructed south of Donald W. Reynolds Stadium, will serve as the home of Razorback Football. In October 2010, under Smith's leadership, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation issued a lead $10 million challenge grant to help raise funds for the Football Center. This challenge was met in August 2011, paving the way for construction of the football center.
"Fred Smith has meant so much to our student-athletes, our athletic program, university and state through his leadership of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and his personal philanthropy to Razorback Athletics," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said.
"The admiration and respect Fred enjoys throughout our state was once again demonstrated when several of his peers stepped forward in a major way when they learned of our desire to honor him with the naming of the football center. There is no more fitting way to recognize Fred's generosity and the Smiths' love of the Razorbacks than to place his name on our newest and most essential football facility for our student-athletes and coaches."
The Fred W. Smith Football Center will include a new locker room, team meeting rooms, training room, equipment room, a student-athlete lounge and study area, coaches' offices, a recruiting reception area and football displays celebrating the tradition of Razorback Football. Last fall as part of the football center project, two new practice fields and a parking deck were completed south of the Walker Family Training Center providing the football team with spectacular new practice venues and university faculty and students with approximately 225 covered parking spaces.
"As I have become more and more acquainted with Fred W. Smith it is apparent to me in our conversations he and his family are extremely proud of the University of Arkansas and all it represents," Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema said.
"They have been long-time fervent advocates of the Razorbacks and the entire state. He is a man of few words and lots of action and his generosity has once again demonstrated a strong devotion to our mission of winning championships. I am a big believer in preparing student-athletes for football and for life and I am pleased to associate Fred W. Smith's name with the facility that will amplify our focus in these areas for countless future Razorbacks."
Born in Arkoma, Oklahoma, Mr. Smith had an extensive career in advertising and media before being named Chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Las Vegas. During his 43 year career at Donrey Media Group, Mr. Smith worked his way through the ranks to become President and COO and CEO of one of the nation's largest privately held media companies.
Through his work with the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Mr. Smith was instrumental in the university's securement of several multi-million dollar gifts, including the Steven L. Anderson Design Center within the Fay Jones School of Architecture; the Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development in the Sam M. Walton College of Business; and the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium expansion, Student-Athlete Success Center and the student-athlete Development program, within Razorback Athletics.
On a personal level, Mr. Smith and his wife, the late Mary B. Smith, have contributed to several initiatives at the university, including the Barbara Broyles Caregiving Legacy Fund, the Razorback Athletics Student-Athlete Success Center and the Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Golf Center.