Alumna makes $25 million gift to Mary Baldwin University

mary baldwin universityMary Baldwin University announced today the largest gift in its 176-year history: a $25 million legacy gift from alumna and longtime champion Bertie Murphy Deming Smith ’46.

Mrs. Smith has been MBU’s top donor for more than 50 years. In 2011 Mrs. Smith’s $15 million gift made possible the establishment of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, which has transformed the university with doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in a wide range of high-demand health sciences disciplines. Her support also made possible the renovation of the Deming Fine Arts Center on the historic campus.

Mrs. Smith has provided continuous support for the ongoing innovations that fuel Mary Baldwin’s core commitment to women-centered education through the annual fund and gifts to the endowment. In 2006 her gifts launched the successful $80 million Ever Ahead campaign and sparked a major series of campus enhancement projects to more than half the buildings on the main campus. Mrs. Smith and her sister, alumna Polly Murphy Keller Winter ’44, jointly created the Bertie Wilson Murphy Distinguished Chair in Business Administration to honor their mother.

Mrs. Smith’s most recent gift will go into MBU’s endowment to provide additional income for future investing and expenses. This testament to her faith in the vision and continued evolution of MBU comes during the initial phase of a new university fundraising campaign, Invest for Impact, which will support programmatic and enrollment goals through 2025.

MBU President Pamela R. Fox said Mrs. Smith’s investment will serve as inspiration to other donors who support both the history and the vision of MBU.

“Mrs. Smith is investing with great faith in our future,” said Fox. “She believes in Mary Baldwin, and she believes in the multitude of donors who will join her in supporting a transformational Mary Baldwin education for our students.”

“As a young woman arriving on campus in my sister’s footsteps at the age of 16, Mary Baldwin was the environment for me through outstanding academics and a transformative network of support through dedicated faculty and staff, including Dean Martha Grafton,” said Mrs. Smith. “It has given me great pride and joy to support the ongoing mission of empowering women as well as the many innovations that have extended Mary Baldwin’s mission to new generations of students. Each president since Dr. Samuel R. Spencer Jr. in the 1960s has led Mary Baldwin forward with vision and courage, a legacy of leadership exemplified now by Dr. Pamela Fox.”

After two years as a student at Mary Baldwin — where she served as president of her sophomore class — Mrs. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas. She is a mother of four and survives her late husbands, John Deming and Joe D. Smith Jr. Mrs. Smith served on the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees for 30 years until 1996 and is now Trustee Emerita. Her daughter, Bertie Deming “Bebe” Heiner of Charlottesville, was also an MBU Trustee.

MBU has previously recognized Mrs. Smith by establishing the Bertie Murphy Deming Distinguished Service Award and by awarding her an honorary doctorate.


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