CSU grad gives school $1 million

By Scott Halasz shalasz@civitasmedia.com

March 12, 2014

WILBERFORCE — Central State University has received a $1 million gift from one of its most distinguished alumni.

Businessman and radio journalist Josh Smith, who graduated from CSU in 1963 and serves on the board of four Fortune 100 companies, made the pledge on Tuesday to continue his longstanding philanthropic relationship with the university and also called on other alumni to do the same if they have the means.

“It is right to give back,” Smith said. “I hope this will not only benefit the university, but will also serve as a model for other alumni to give. I hope people look at this and say ‘darn J.I., there he goes again. This is part of continuing contributions that I make to the university.”

Smith was inducted in the 1887 Legacy Society in 2007 in recognition of a $250,000 insurance gift that became $500,000 in 2013, a $50,000 contribution to WCSU-FM also in 2013.

The gift, which began with an installment on Tuesday and will reach the $1 million plateau within a year and half, is unrestricted so Central State can use it how it sees fit.

“In this economy that is very, very rare,” said CSU Director of Public Relations Gayle Barge.

Smith’s latest present will help Central State continue to offer its students scholarships and other educational opportunities it may not have been able to before, according to university president Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond.

“Those resources are not covered by state funding,” she said. “A pledge of $1 million is a significant contribution.”

Smith had a humble upbringing but was given a chance the Central State and made the most of it. He graduated cum laude and did graduate work in law and business administration at the University of Akron and Central Michigan University. He has a laundry list of business accomplishments that include starting The MAXIMA Corporation, a consultancy company; serving as managing partner of The Coaching Group, where he works with CEO’s of portfolio companies; and hosting “Biz Talk With Josh,” a weekly business talk show which airs on the CBS Radio network. Smith, who resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, The Rev. Jacqueline Jones-Smith, also served on the faculty of CSU from 1963 to 1964.

In all, Smith has received more than 300 awards, hones and citations, perhaps the biggest coming when he was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush to serve in several capacities from 1989 to 1992. Throughout his growth on the corporate ladder, Smith never forgot where he started.

“Central State made sure we got our education,” he said of he and his siblings. “This is a priority to me.”

Smith’s success and his continual giving back to the university was summed up nicely by Jackson-Hammond.

“When you become committed to the students, the students will become committed to the university,” she said. “He’s believes in giving back and has done so from the beginning.”