Paying it Forward

October 10, 2012

Bertie Murphy Deming Smith ’46 has time and again made generous gifts to help the college thrive and to invest in future generations of confident, compassionate changemakers. Her most recent gift of $15 million — the largest in Mary Baldwin’s history — marks the beginning of a new college of health sciences.  Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences is predicted to generate $4.5 million in annual revenue by 2019-20. Some of that will be channeled back into undergraduate programs and, the Residential College for Women, and a portion will go to support continued development in the health sciences. “I am delighted that I am in a position to make the lead gift, and I want to encourage others to join me in realizing this important project is the next chapter in the history of a great college,” she said.

In addition to fueling the launch of MDCHS, Smith is largely responsible for kicking off the earliest stage of Ever Ahead: The Campaign for Mary Baldwin University with a pledged gift in 2004-05 of $6.5 million to inspire participation in funding the college’s 10-year strategic plan, Composing Our Future.  Her generous contributions inspired others to give, generating more than $17.9 million in total fundraising by 2008 through a 1:1 matching gifts challenge. “My pledge to Mary Baldwin is an affirmation of my continuing confidence in the policies and plans of the Board of Trustees and President Pamela Fox’s leadership,” Smith said.

Smith attended Mary Baldwin for two years in the mid-1940s, serving as sophomore class president and a member of the Spanish club. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas. She is an esteemed and much-awarded trustee emerita of the college, having served on the Board for more than 30 years. Among her many gifts, she and her family established in 1979  the first endowed chair (in business management) created by a woman’s college in the South, and provided the majority of funding for Deming Fine Arts Center on campus. The college has previously recognized her efforts by establishing the Bertie Murphy Deming Distinguished Service Award and by bestowing on her an honorary doctorate.

Smith acknowledges that change is necessary for growth and vitality. “When I attended Mary Baldwin University, it was in many ways a very different one,” she said. “It was a great deal smaller, both physically and in the number of students. I believe it was very much the same, though, in what it did then and continues to do to help young women grow into the people they have the potential to be.”