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Trustees Back Naming Building for Bud Smith

Education: Full Cal State board is expected to ratify plan in wake of developer's pledge to Channel Islands campus.


Rewarding Oxnard developer Martin V. "Bud" Smith for a $5-million pledge, Cal State University trustees agreed Tuesday to place his name on the business education building at Ventura County's public university.

The vote, handed down by a trustee subcommittee and subject to ratification today by the full governing board, clears the way for creation of the Martin V. Smith Building for Business Studies at the emerging Cal State Channel Islands campus.

Smith's $5-million endowment, announced in March, will be funneled as a bequest from his estate into an interest-bearing trust that is expected to generate $8 million for the university over the next two decades.

A portion of the earnings will be used to reward faculty members for superior teaching and provide student scholarships--incentives key to the university's efforts to craft a cutting-edge curriculum at the campus under development at the former Camarillo State Hospital complex.

"This is a wonderful expression of support and faith in the future of the university," Channel Islands President Handel Evans said after the decision.

"This particular gift is our first major pledge directed to the heart of the academic program, its students and faculty," he added. "And it should be recognized."

One of the county's most prominent real estate investors and developers, Smith, 83, once owned more than 200 properties between Santa Maria and Calabasas.

His portfolio included the Fisherman's Wharf commercial complex at Channel Islands Harbor, the nearby Casa Sirena Marina Resort and the 21-story Financial Plaza tower--the tallest building between Los Angeles and San Jose.

Smith sold most of his holdings about four years ago to enjoy a life of semi-retirement. But he has remained active and interested in civic affairs, especially the creation of a public four-year university.

Smith could not be reached Tuesday for comment, but said in a prepared statement that he is committed to helping local students continue their education in Ventura County.

"I can think of no better way to ensure a great future for Ventura County than by supporting Cal State University Channel Islands," Smith said. "I am honored and humbled to have my name associated with a building on its campus."

Plans call for the university's business education department to be housed in an existing two-story building that was formerly an activities center for state hospital clients.

There is no timeline for when that is to take place, Evans said.

Smith's donation comes in the form of an irrevocable bequest and will eventually flow into the university's endowment, maintained by the Cal State Channel Islands Foundation.

The initial $5 million will remain in the endowment in perpetuity, producing interest that will be used to pay for academic programs.


A portion of the earnings will be divided among the areas that Smith has indicated, including the Martin V. Smith Award for Teaching Excellence and the Martin V. Smith Scholars program to enable the university to recruit, reward and retain top students. Money will also be used to establish an endowed chair to study local land-use issues--the first step toward creating a university think tank to explore development issues confronting Ventura County.

Smith's gift matches the largest donation to the Channel Islands campus, a $5-million pledge last fall by Oxnard rancher John S. Broome.

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