Remarks at the Memorial Service for Robert H. Smith President C.D. Mote, Jr.
January 3, 2010
I first met Bob in his office on Tuesday, September 1, 1998 at 3:00 p.m. I remember it well for meeting Bob Smith on my first day as President of the University is what I thought I should do. That thought turned out to be true. That meeting began our partnership that has led directly to elevating the University and public higher education in the State to the top tier. Over this relatively short twelve year period his supports for the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center makes him the most generous supporter of public education in State of Maryland history.
But Bob's impact on me and on the University was far, far greater than philanthropic. He educated us on quality, planning, execution, leverage, patriotism...and on when to speak and when to listen. On Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in 1998, Bob invited me to the Farm to discuss support for what was to become the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. After I met the family, Bob and I discussed the performing arts center planning and his willingness to support it. He was crystal clear in his thinking, and his intentions were unambiguous. He had thought it through, decided what he wanted to support, and assured me of his continued support if the university did its part. This was my time to listen, and so I did. Years later, on more that one occasion, we reminisced on where our handshake that day had taken the university and us. It has been a remarkable, if yet unfinished, journey indeed. Since that beginning I have hand written hundreds of notes to him and used his personal support on many occasions to instantly quiet critics of initiatives. His passing is an immeasurable loss for all of us.
Bob's visionary range extended from long-term strategic goals reflecting grand dreams that will build the highest quality into the business school, performing arts center and the university as a whole, to drilling into the quality of the students and faculty as well as into the grounds, maintenance, trees, signage, lighting, pavements, interior finishes and so on. His expectation of highest quality in everything worthwhile has proven correct over and over again. He met with students to hear about what they were up to and he walked the grounds and halls too. He enjoyed it immensely and also assessed the quality of the core.
Bob believed in dreams. He often said, "It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. When you cease to dream, you cease to live." Well Bob, let me assure you that we will fulfill your dreams for the University of Maryland for they are ours too. We will not let you down. To Clarice, Michelle, David and the grandchildren we open our hearts to you, offer our sincerest condolences and willingness to assist you through this most difficult period.
C. D. (Dan) Mote, Jr.
University of Maryland College Park