The Southern University System Foundation has received a gift of at least $1.3 million -- the biggest in its history -- from an estate set up by two Southern graduates. The bequest came from the James and Ruth Smith Trust. The couple met at Southern's Baton Rouge campus and were married for 44 years.
James Smith, an artist and teacher who earned master's and doctoral degrees, was a professor emeritus of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a black-studies teacher there when he died at age 78 in 2008.
Ruth Smith was a tailor who earned master's and doctoral degrees in education. She was a teacher and an administrator in the Santa Barbara County public-school system, and she founded a children's center after her retirement. She died in 2006, when she was 79 years old.,
The gift is the largest the Southern System has received since its founding in 1880, said Ernie Hughes, the system's vice president for institutional advancement.