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RIT honors Fred W. Smith as winner of Four Presidents’ Award for public service

RIT’s Vice President Emeritus Alfred L. Davis heard inspirational words from CIA Director George Tenet during the 2002 graduation ceremonies. Tenet told the graduates: “Serve someone other than yourself, something bigger than yourself.”

At a reception honoring the first recipient of a new public service award are, from left, former RIT President Richard Rose, Vice President Emeritus Alfred Davis, former President Paul Miller and President Albert Simone.

Davis, who has a 65-year association with RIT, decided he, too, would take on the challenge. So he created the Four Presidents’ Distinguished Public Service Award, which will be presented annually to a member of the RIT faculty or staff whose public service and commitment mirrors that of the four presidents who worked with Davis. They are: the late Mark Ellingson (who served RIT from 1936-1969), Paul Miller (1969-1979), Richard Rose (1979-1992) and Albert Simone (1992-present).

Fred W. Smith, who joined RIT in 1971, is the first recipient of the Four Presidents’ Distinguished Public Service Award.

Fred W. Smith, secretary of the institute and assistant to the president, is the award’s first recipient. Smith joined RIT in 1971. He served as chairman of the board of Rochester’s Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum during the museum’s first expansion in the late 1990s. He also has contributed his time and talents to other organizations including Family Service of Rochester, Rochester Museum and Science Center (former president and chairman), the Urbanarium, Project HOPE and the Fortnightly Club of Rochester. He also has served as a trustee and elder of Third Presbyterian Church.

“Fred Smith has been an inspirational force in helping to shape the social service and cultural landscape of the greater Rochester region,” says Simone. “As the first recipient of this award, he represents the best of RIT and the greater Rochester community.”

Smith was recognized at a ceremony in June, with many family members and friends in attendance. Davis started a $50,000 endowment to fund the award. Each recipient will have the privilege of designating the endowment income to a beneficiary of their choice, such as a not-for-profit organization in Rochester or a group on campus. Smith plans to divide the $2,500 award evenly among the following groups: The Institute of Fellows, RIT Women’s Council, RIT Nathaniel Rochester Society scholarship, Family Service of Rochester and Strong Museum.