DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University graduate Helen Crider Smith, Class of 1956, has been selected to receive the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC) Earl F. Morris Trustee of the Year Award.
The annual award, to be presented in April, recognizes an exceptional trustee from one of the OFIC’s 34 member institutions. Based in Columbus, the nonprofit foundation represents 93,000 students and raises corporate and other funds to support educational programs, student scholarships, and collaborative efforts among its members.
Smith is the first Ohio Wesleyan trustee to earn the Morris Award, created by the OFIC in 2010. Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said Smith’s 30-plus-year legacy of service to her alma mater makes her the perfect choice for the prestigious honor.
“As an Ohio Wesleyan trustee, Helen Crider Smith’s leadership has been exemplary in every way,” said Jones, who nominated her for the award. “She is known by all for her wise counsel, penetrating and pertinent questions, and genuine concern for the university as a whole as well as for each individual on campus.”
Smith joined the Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees in 1985. She served as an at-large member until 1998, when she became a life trustee. She was the Board’s first female chair and spearheaded a previous presidential search. The university previously recognized her leadership with an Alumni Award in 1964, a Greek Alumni Award in 1992, and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2012.
“Together with her husband, Gordon, Class of 1954,” Jones said, “Helen has invested a significant amount of time, talent, and treasure to support the university and its students, faculty, and staff. They have established a ‘Women as Leaders’ scholarship; helped to expand the university’s planned giving, communications, and international student-recruiting initiatives; and for more than a decade supported all of our international students with a funded trip to the nation’s capital. Such a legacy of service is simply extraordinary.”
Indeed, Helen Smith’s commitment to service extends far beyond Ohio Wesleyan. She and her husband also have been a driving force behind the development of one of Tanzania’s leading private schools, the School of St. Jude. The East African school provides elementary through high school educations for children living in poverty. The couple’s connection with the School of St. Jude also has benefitted Ohio Wesleyan students who study abroad as part of the university’s semester-long OWU in Tanzania program.
The couple’s support of international education also is reflected in their involvement with Opportunity International, a large microfinance organization that operates in third-world countries. Through this association, they began a scholarship program for the children of microfinance clients that now supports more than 40 students attending universities in the Philippines. Some of these students also have attended Ohio Wesleyan.
During her time as an Ohio Wesleyan student, Helen Smith majored in English and home economics, and was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority. For her academic achievements, she earned membership in multiple national and international honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi (education), Phi Upsilon Omicron (family and consumer sciences), Pi Delta Epsilon (journalism), and Mortar Board (scholarship, leadership, and service). She later earned her master’s degree in English from the University of Maryland.
Although Smith is the first Ohio Wesleyan graduate to win the OFIC’s Earl F. Morris Trustee of the Year Award, 10 OWU alumni have been inducted into the foundation’s Hall of Excellence since its creation in 1987. Ohio Wesleyan’s Hall of Excellence inductees are:
- Gregory L. Moore, Class of 1976, award-winning journalist and former editor of The Denver Post, inducted in 2015.
- Jean Carper, Class of 1953, New York Times best-selling author and former CNN medical correspondent, inducted in 2014.
- Evan R. Corns, Class of 1959, co-founder and retired CEO of America’s Body Co., inducted in 2010.
- David L. Hobson, Class of 1958, retired member of the U.S. House of Representatives, inducted in 2005.
- George H. Conrades, Class of 1961, chairman of Akamai Technologies, inducted in 2001.
- Robert W. Gillespie, Class of 1966, chairman emeritus of KeyCorp, inducted in 1997.
- Sherwood Rowland, Ph.D., Class of 1948, Nobel Prize-winning research chemist, inducted in 1996.
- David Hamilton Smith, M.D., Class of 1953, physician, researcher, and author, inducted in 1995.
- Frank N. Stanton, Ph.D., Class of 1930, former president of CBS, inducted in 1991.
- Norman Vincent Peale, Class of 1920, pastor and author of the “Power of Positive Thinking,” inducted in 1989.
Learn more about the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, its Earl F. Morris Trustee of the Year Award, and its Hall of Excellence at www.ofic.org.
About Ohio Wesleyan University
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.