The Craven Community College (Craven CC) Foundation has established a new scholarship endowment in memory of Gregory Fitzgerald Smith, a well-known community leader, Craven CC Foundation board member and owner of Mitchell Hardware who passed away suddenly on Jan. 29.
Approved by the Foundation’s executive leadership committee Thursday, Feb. 8, the Gregory Fitzgerald Smith Scholarship Endowment acknowledges the positive and substantial impact Smith had on the students at Craven CC, as well as his service as a board member and chair of the foundation’s current Community Campaign.
“Greg was always one to find ways to make things better and we wanted to honor that sentiment in a way that is appropriate and respectful,” said Lloyd Griffith, Craven CC Foundation president. “With help from this endowment, we are excited about the potential lives that will be touched by Greg’s influence.”
The new scholarship endowment will provide financial assistance for part-time students who reside in Craven County. Craven CC has numerous scholarships in place for full-time students, but the Gregory Fitzgerald Smith Scholarship Endowment is the first in school history to provide assistance exclusively for part-time students.
“There is a recognized need for those students who are seeking that next step up but can only do it on a part-time basis … and need to do it on a part-time basis,” added Griffith. “Rather than simply adding a scholarship in Greg’s name, we felt like this was a spot in the community we could make a real difference.”
Several donations made to Craven CC in Smith’s name have already been earmarked for the scholarship endowment.
“Greg’s compassion for our students is being realized through this endowment,” said Craven CC President Dr. Ray Staats. “Greg put his heart into everything he touched and we are humbled that members of our community chose to honor Greg’s legacy with an endowment that will touch the lives of students for many years to come.”
At the time of Smith’s death, he was serving as a Craven CC board member and was chair of the Craven CC Foundation’s Community Campaign. Smith, as the owner of Mitchell Hardware, was also a recipient of the 2014 Community Fabric Award (CFA) for Business Leadership, which he received during the Craven CC Foundation’s annual CFA ceremony and fundraising luncheon.
“I was delighted when Greg, as one of the strong community leaders, agreed to serve on the Foundation board,” said Griffith. “Like everything else he did, when he joined, he gave it his complete dedication to make it better. After a year, we asked him to chair the community campaign and he enthusiastically said ‘yes.’ He saw the impact that the college was making on the lives of so many people and it seemed fitting to the Foundation board to continue his legacy by investing in the students with opportunities to make their lives and consequently this community better.”
Efforts to recognize Smith’s community leadership are being discussed by other community organizations as well, including the interagency committee consisting of representatives from Craven CC, Swiss Bear, Craven County Government, City of New Bern, the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce, Craven County Tourism Development Authority, Tryon Palace and others.
“There is a desire among all of us to do something downtown to memorialize Greg,” said Lynne Harakal, executive director of Swiss Bear. “We are taking our time and brainstorming ideas to think about what this is going to be. There will definitely be opportunities in the near future for people to participate in this effort and express an appreciation for his life.”
For more information about the Craven CC Foundation or the Gregory Fitzgerald Smith Scholarship Endowment, call 252-638-7351 or visit CravenCC.edu/foundation.
Submitted by: Craig Ramey, Director of Communications, Craven Community College