The institution will receive $10 million to fund a scholarship program for students graduating from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), from diverse backgrounds who have overcome significant hardships or challenges in their academic pursuits, or who have demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through this scholarship fund, Columbia will be able to access a pipeline of those who have been historically overlooked by non-HBCU graduate institutions.
"Robert Smith is to be commended for supporting talented students who have been underrepresented in higher education and for his sustained commitment to expanding access to the nation’s colleges and universities,” said Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia’s President and Seth Low Professor of the University. “His generous gift coincides with the opening of Columbia Business School’s Manhattanville home and serves as a fitting declaration of the values to be embraced by the future of business education at Columbia.”
Students beginning in the fall 2022 semester will be eligible to receive both partial and full tuition scholarships from the fund. Over the next ten years, the gift is expected to help Columbia Business School to attract and support approximately 200 students from HBCUs and diverse backgrounds.
“Robert Smith’s gift provides us with significant support in our effort to bring in a diverse student body to our School and to help create a more inclusive, equitable and innovative society,” said Costis Maglaras, Dean and David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business. “It is vital to achieving our vision of developing inspiring leaders and ideas that transform the world. Robert’s generosity will allow us to amplify our efforts. We are grateful for his support.”
This gift follows Smith’s 2017 gift of $15 million to Columbia Business School to help it expand to its new Manhattanville campus, which features two new state-of-the-art buildings that bring the fast-paced, high-tech, and highly social character of 21st century business to life.
Smith has also previously received the 2017 Distinguished Leadership in Business Award in recognition of his industry leadership and commitment to the community, as well as the Columbia BBSA Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Those who are fluent in the language of business and technology will play an enormous role in building the future," said Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. “We need to make investments today in tomorrow's talent pipeline, ensuring that it is open to those who have historically been left behind. This scholarship will do just that. Columbia Business School saw something in me and helped propel me in my career, and I know that they will continue to empower the leaders of the future, providing them unparalleled opportunities right in the heart of our nation’s economy – New York City.”