AU Athletics Receives Endowment Gift

AU Athletics Receives Endowment Gift

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– Eagles fans know that Charlie Jones can bury a couple free throws with a basketball game on the line.

But can Jones select the correct fork at a lunch with a potential employer?

Learning that skill and others is the intention behind American University Athletics' annual Etiquette Dinner, part of a life skills series to ensure all graduating student-athletes reach their potential on and off the court. 

The four-course dinner held Sunday night at the TPC Potomac at Avenel's clubhouse where guests learned etiquette and business networking from Michele Pollard Patrick of National Protocol.  The highlight of the evening was news that future events would be funded by an endowed gift of $500,000 from Dr. Stephanie Bennett-Smith and her late husband Orin Smith.

"It's important that this event be continued, so that not only today's student-athletes but future student-athletes have the opportunity to come together and celebrate accomplishments and learn skills that will be important in the years to come," Bennett-Smith said of the future funding for what will now be called the Orin R. Smith Life Skills Etiquette Dinner.

Bennett-Smith chose to honor her husband's memory by endowing the dinner because the university's Life Skills Program has been important to both of them. The program supports all athletes, regardless of sport, and provides learning opportunities that benefit student-athletes throughout their lives. Bennett-Smith's gift recognizes the important life lessons gained through athletic discipline and competitive training, lessons that have prepared AU Eagles for future success. The Orin R. Smith Life Skills Etiquette Dinner extends those important attributes.

"As a result of his many successes in his business career and otherwise, Orin and I always looked at the opportunity in front of us, not as paying backwards. But instead what was really important was to pay forward. And we're paying forward with you all.
"You are the future, and doing what we can to help you achieve that future is perhaps the most important thing we could do."

Athletic Director Billy Walker thanked Dr. Bennett-Smith, "the impact of your generous gift will be felt through the years as these student-athletes and those who come after take the valuable lessons learned through this life skills program and apply them to a lifetime of leadership and service. Thank you for your contribution, for your talent, for your time and your dedication to our student-athletes."

The event is the culmination of AU student-athletes' involvement in the life skills program. Through their four years, student-athletes learn time management and study skills, job-seeking skills, and etiquette techniques to prepare for life after college athletics.

Etiquette Dinner Recap