Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners and 94’ graduate of the Columbia Business School, generously gifted $15 million to the school in 2017. The donation finalized the school’s down payment on its future home. In Manhattanville, Columbia Business School will inhabit two new state-of-the-art buildings in the University’s Manhattanville Campus.
As an alumnus of Columbia Business School, Smith can attest to the benefit that students receive from attending. The skills he learned while at Columbia helped him succeed in business and become one of the wealthiest people in the country.
Smith said “The wonderful thing about Columbia is it’s in the city of New York. What that means is you get immediate access to the practitioners of the craft you’re studying.” Smith’s donation helped the school finalize plans to open two new buildings in Manhattanville. This will give students interested in business, finance, technology, and other fields even better access to the highest levels of the trade, being blocks away from Wall Street, the hub of the financial universe.
Smith has shown the same entrepreneurial spirit from a young age that successful students of Columbia Business School possess. While still in high school, he was initially denied a prestigious internship at Bell Labs because they were typically reserved for college students. But he called the company every week for five months, and his persistence paid off when he was eventually offered the position.
Smith took that internship and ran with it, leveraging the opportunity to springboard into more senior positions over the years. His donation will help ensure that students at Columbia Business School will be afforded the same opportunities he had and get the chance to make the most of them, just like he did.
Listen to Smith speak about his donation to Columbia Business School here.