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Trustee, Alumna Establishes Endowed Rome Scholarship
Trustee Megan Smith, D.O., BA ’02 MBA ’18, was thinking primarily of future generations of Romers when she decided to create an endowed scholarship for current UD students who need financial assistance to participate in the Rome Program. Smith did so with a blended gift — a cash commitment now and a generous deferred gift included in her estate plans.

“I’m particularly thankful for Megan’s leadership in making UD such a priority in her estate plans,” said Vice President for University Advancement Jason Wu Trujillo. “Her lifetime commitment, plus her very generous planned gift, will make Rome accessible to generations of UD students to come. The impact of these blended gifts is tremendous.”

On Aug. 19, at a ceremony on the Irving campus to celebrate the Dr. Megan Anne Smith Rome Scholarship, President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83, pointed out that it is notable that Smith has chosen the Rome Program as the beneficiary of these funds, given that at UD, she was a pre-med biology major and basketball player who had transferred here — so not the “typical” liberal arts major one might most associate with a student profoundly to be affected by the Rome experience. 

“It’s one of those remarkable UD stories,” he said, “though maybe not so remarkable at UD.”

Hibbs also noted that Smith, as a trustee and a physician, has been a member of UD’s COVID task force and essential to helping the university navigate its pandemic response. Her ongoing support of the Rome Program is yet another example of her continuous involvement with the life and mission of UD, and indeed, the Rome Program has been integral to this mission ever since the program’s inception exactly 50 years ago.

“The opportunity to go to Rome is a tremendous gift,” said Provost Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D., by way of introducing the remarks sent from Rome by Vice President, Dean and Director of the Rome Campus Peter Hatlie, Ph.D. “Rome is both the core of the Core and an accelerator for maturation; students go there as boys and girls and come back as men and women.”   

“Megan is one of UD Rome's most enduring friends and supporters,” wrote Hatlie. “She was a student in my own debut semester in fall 1999. She has been a beloved participant in our UD Rome President's Week trips in recent years. Megan has been a frequent visitor to Rome and a generous benefactor in support of some recent, strategically important Rome projects, including our current $150,000 Aula Minore classroom and library upgrade. Above all, she is one of those cherished and valued alumni and friends of the university who have supported Rome as it continues to pursue its mission of broadening student horizons and offering them a rich education in the Western and Roman Catholic tradition abroad.”

As Hatlie recalled, Smith’s own Rome semester 21 years ago was the first time she had ever left the United States, and she visited 14 countries in the time she was there.

“[She] developed a new perspective on the world as the result of her independent travel,” he said. “The fact that Megan's heart and thoughts remain in Rome is proof that the Rome Program is that special gift that keeps on giving. With her present gift, Megan is effectively giving future students the opportunity to come to Rome and give their ‘best self’ to the Rome experience, only to be rewarded in kind for doing so.”

“UD has instilled in me a love of learning that has served me well long after graduation,” said Smith. “I have friends who have become family — despite some of those friends having been spring Romers,” she laughed, “which we know is a huge chasm.”

She acknowledged that her Rome semester, like for many, was a huge financial sacrifice for her parents. 

“Yet, it has paid countless dividends,” she said.

Smith recalled how crucial her Rome experience was for her career. Of the five basketball players in her class who were also pre-med, only two went to Rome, and she finds it concerning that pre-med students might not feel the Rome semester to be worth their while.

“My Rome experience only helped me to get into med school; it was not a hindrance,” she emphasized.

As she told Hatlie recently, “The world is our classroom, and the classroom our world.” One part of the Rome semester that she deeply appreciated was how she began by studying something at a distance, then that something “took on color, meaning and life when seen and experienced firsthand,” wrote Hatlie. “This is a journey from the general to the particular and onward to the personal — a journey by which everyone associated with the Rome Program has been touched at one time or another, if not multiple times.

“My deepest thanks go out to Megan, therefore, both for her friendship and her faith,” he added. “My prediction is that 20 years from now, if not sooner, her present gift will be reciprocated in kind by one or more of the very students who have benefited from her financial support. And even if that does not happen, those students will nonetheless be better citizens, better parents, better friends and better individuals for having had the opportunity to experience Rome as she did.”

To learn more about establishing your own endowed scholarship or including UD in your estate plans, please contact Assistant Vice President for Development Kris Muñoz Vetter at kmunozvetter@udallas.edu. To learn more, visit our endowed scholarships page or planned giving page.

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