Robert F. Smith, the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, made a $50 million commitment to Cornell University’s School Of Engineering, his alma mater.
His gift is being reciprocated. The school will be renamed the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell. The donation will also fund the Robert Frederick Smith Tech Scholars Program. The program will focus on providing financial aid, particularly for minority and female students.
“Robert’s generosity will not only elevate our School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, but it will ensure it becomes more accessible than ever,” said Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Cornell Engineering. “I believe an affordable educational path from engineering in Ithaca to Cornell Tech in New York City, for those who wouldn’t otherwise be offered such an opportunity, will produce some of the sharpest minds in engineering and technology. I’m thankful Robert shares this vision and is making it a reality.”
Smith, who is No. 1 on the BE100s Private Equity list, was also recently listed on the Forbes 400—the magazine’s yearly list of the 400 richest Americans. He is the only African American male on the list. Under his leadership, Vista Equity Partners has become one of the world’s most successful investment houses. He received a degree in chemical engineering from Cornell in 1985.
This Black History Month, NewsOne takes a look back at the top African-American moments from 2000 to 2012. Some will make you happy while others will undoubtedly make you angry and/or sad. Either way, here’s to the last 12 years of our living history. Enjoy!
Moment: Bob Johnson Becomes First African-American Billionaire
Bob Johnson, founder and former chairman and executive chief officer of Black Entertainment Television (BET), is noted as the first African-American billionaire. Johnson built the BET network and brand with ex-wife, Shelia Johnson, and then later took the company public.
After buying back all of the publicly traded stock, Johnson sold BET to Viacom for $3 billion. The move landed Johnson in “Forbes” magazine as the first Black American to be listed as one of the world’s top earners.
Another of Johnson’s many business achievements is becoming the first principal owner of a North American major-league sports franchise. The Charlotte Bobcats and its WNBA counterpart, the Sting, were owned primarily by Johnson’s investment group, which included former NBA superstar Michael Jordan. Johnson continues to make waves in the business world with his RLJ Companies brand and media investments.