Throughout their lives, Art Smith ’50 and Gail Hollensteiner Smith ’50 were avid travelers, and through their philanthropy they ensured study abroad opportunities for University of Redlands students in perpetuity.
The couple met at a sock hop freshman year and married in 1949. Art worked for Firestone Corporation for a few years after graduation, then returned to Redlands for his teaching credential. At age 56, he retired as an administrator for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and set off with Gail on many travels—favorite destinations were Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.
After establishing an endowed scholarship in 1990, the Smiths, along with their children Norm Smith ’91, Cindy Jensen, Kathy Palmer, and Shari Webb, set up an additional endowment in 2005 to support the Salzburg Semester. Salzburg Director Sara Falkenstien recalls first meeting Art more than a decade ago: “He was incredibly warm and generous. I enjoyed sharing our students’ stories with him and his family, all of whom are strongly connected to the transformative power of travel.”
Ericka Smith (no relation), senior philanthropic advisor at U of R, also worked with the family for many years. “I was moved by how their philanthropic decisions were made together as a family,” she says. In 2015, the Smith Family Study Abroad Aid Grant Endowment was established to help students with the additional costs of studying abroad, such as airfare, local transportation, and visa fees. “They felt strongly that their own travel abroad changed their horizons,” she says, “and that it was an important part of a real education.”
While both Gail and Art are now deceased, their family’s legacy—and love of travel—lives on through their gift. After a competitive application process, the first cohort of 16 grantees were selected in spring 2017.
“I am reminded daily of the generosity of the Smith family as I pass by the plaque outside of our Mensa in Salzburg,” reflects Falkenstien. “Their family has made it possible for more students to discover new cultures, new interests, and a new sense of self.”
“Going abroad was the ultimate opportunity to test my skills and plan for an internationalized professional life. I was able to network with international organizations for Global Health—an opportunity that has resulted in a spring internship with the Red Cross, and an opportunity to return to Switzerland for the summer!”
—Sera Gearhart ’19, whose Smith Family grant supported travel to Nyon, Switzerland
“The amount of wisdom, independence, and maturity I acquired abroad has been unparalleled. I learned how to navigate through different languages, cuisines, and modes of transportation … I truly am a different and better person because of it.”
—Alexis Jimenez Maldonado ’19, whose Smith Family grant supported travel to Salzburg, Austria
“The appreciation I felt there and still feel every day for the opportunity to study in another country, learning directly from a vastly different environment, culture, and new perspectives, is endless. Being immersed there is an experience that has changed me and challenged not only my academic growth, but my personal growth as well.”
—Oriana Cabrera Piemonte ’19, whose Smith Family grant supported travel to Bhutan
For information on how you can support travel opportunities for Redlands students like the Smith family has, please contact Ericka Smith at 909-748-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.