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A Lasting Impression: Reggie Smith

A Lasting Impression: Reggie Smith

Reggie Smith still remembers the day she first saw the bronze statue of San Diego de Alcalá on the lawn outside Copley Library. One hand was outstretched. The other hand carried a basket of fruit. For her, this statue, which that day had a ray of sunshine glistening off the shoulder, represented both the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the higher calling of everyone at USD — to live justly, to walk humbly and to help those less fortunate.

It was that higher calling that made her fall in love with the University of San Diego and why she's remained an active volunteer and a supportive donor for more than 50 years.

"This place is special," says Smith, who first visited campus in the early 1960s and is the parent of a School of Law graduate. "Its beautiful gardens, fountains, art and architecture — combined with a broad and deep liberal arts education — also make its students special.

"They aren't just earning a degree, they're learning a philosophy of life," Smith continues. "They're learning a respect for dignity, the value of hard work and accomplishment, a commitment to individuals and community, and a love of lifelong learning."

Smith knows it, too. She's been an integral part of many campus endeavors, even before the San Diego College for Women and the San Diego College for Men merged in 1972 to form what is now the University of San Diego.

She worked with Sister Sally Furay, and later Judy Rauner, to establish what is now the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action. It started with five USD students tutoring children from the Hmong community in math and English at the library in Linda Vista. These days, USD students log hundreds of thousands of hours in community engagement activities locally, nationally and internationally.

"This program has grown beyond all my dreams," she says. "Today, the work of those students can be seen all over the world. I can't tell you how happy that makes me."

In essence, USD students have followed the path Smith and others have gone to give back to the community.

Smith served on the President's Advisory Council for USD's first president, Author E. Hughes. She helped establish and served for three years as the inaugural board president of the Manchester Family Child Development Center. She also served on the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, which oversaw the safety of people participating in research projects through the Hahn School of Nursing.

Smith also knew Joan B. Kroc, and her daughter, and has been involved with and a strong supporter of USD's Institute for Peace and Justice since its inception.

"I look at the IPJ and all the things the School of Peace Studies is doing and I know Mrs. Kroc would have been proud," Smith says. "The Women PeaceMakers, for example, are so inspiring. They have fought against injustice, the have crossed the most difficult boundaries and they have done great things to make the world a better place."

March 29 and 31 Concerts to Honor Smith

Smith's foundational connection to the Mulvaney Center, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this academic year, is cherished. Smith's contributions will be recognized on March 29 and 31 when the Greater San Diego Chamber Orchestra, directed by USD music faculty member, Dr. Angela Yeung, performs Rimsky Korsakov's "Scheherazade," in USD's Shiley Theatre.

"Scheherazade is Reggie's most favorite piece of music," Yeung says. "She told me this last year at her birthday party."

Yeung said Smith has been a strong and valued supporter of the local orchestra group and is pleased to have the opportunity to play "Scheherazade" with Smith in attendance and to honor her service work. The March 29 show is at 7:30 p.m., the March 31 show is at 2 p.m.

Smith says she feels lucky that USD has been such an important part of her life.

"This university has been an exciting place to be and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without USD. I'm grateful that I've been able to be part of USD's growth and change over the years and I can't think of a better place to invest my time and my treasure."

— Krystn Shrieve

Ryan T. Blystone contributed to this story.

To purchase tickets and for more information about the upcoming concerts, go to the Eventbrite.com site.

Reggie Smith has been a longtime supporter of USD. One of her favorite music pieces, Rimsky Korsakov's Reggie Smith has been a longtime supporter of USD. One of her favorite music pieces, Rimsky Korsakov's "Scheherazade," will be played in her honor March 29 and 31 on campus.

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