News

Smith Foundation Funding to Strengthen Faith, Vocational Discernment on Campus

Building on the work first initiated under a pilot program launched in 2017, the Harold C. Smith Foundation has approved a new $862,000 implementation grant for Ursinus College.

Funding will be split into two categories: scholarship support and programmatic support. The existing Rev. Dr. Harold C. Smith ’55 Endowed Scholarship Fund will be expanded upon to increase the number of students who could potentially benefit from it. 

At the same time, Ursinus will utilize the grant to bolster related programming and curricula. There are a broad range of initiatives that are supported under this piece of the grant, including the significant expansion of funded internship opportunities. Other areas of support include study abroad, spiritual wellness programming, the “alternative spring break” program, the Rev. Charles Rice Post-Graduate Fellowship, curricular enhancements, UCARE, faculty development, a visiting professor of Christian studies and a lecture series.

“We are truly grateful to the foundation for this powerful philanthropy,” Ursinus President Brock Blomberg said. “This funding will distinguish us in the areas of Christian studies and vocational discernment—a truly unique claim for a small, liberal arts institution. The impact of this grant will be profound. It is a true honor to be able to pay tribute to and recognize the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Smith, who so tirelessly supported our Ursinus community.”

Smith, who passed away in March 2017, was a longtime member of the Ursinus Board of Trustees and a champion of Ursinus College. Trustee Emerita Nancy Opalack ’71 currently serves as president of the foundation.

“What started out as a pilot project to support the religious and spiritual development of students through experiential learning has grown beyond expectations into a campus movement to explore faith and its relation to vocational discernment,” Opalack said. “The Foundation values Ursinus’s commitment to the integration of faith-based concepts into curriculum and applauds growing student and faculty participation in all program components.”

In August 2017, the Harold C. Smith Foundation awarded Ursinus a $150,000 grant to fund the Harold C. Smith Program in Christian Studies, aimed at supporting the religious and spiritual development of students through experiential learning.

The expanded program will continue to be overseen by Christian Rice, visiting assistant professor of philosophy and religion and assistant dean for civic engagement; Angela Upright, program coordinator; and Rev. Terri Ofori, college chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life.

At Ursinus, Smith established the Rev. Dr. Harold C. Smith Chair in Christian Studies, which supports a faculty member and fosters scholarship and teaching. The Harold C. Smith Scholarship Fund assists United Church of Christ students interested in attending Ursinus College. Smith also supported an annual fund scholarship to help students interested in religious studies. —By Ed Moorhouse