A gift of scholarships


Finances are one of the highest hurdles students face today in obtaining a college degree. That's why the daughter and son-in-law of a legendary local family known for making tasty fruit spreads, peanut butter, baking goods and other sweet treats for more than a century has donated $500,000 in endowed student scholarships to The University of Akron’s Wayne College in Orrville.

UA President Luis M. Proenza, left, with Dr. H. Reid and Susan Smucker Wagstaff, and Philip Lloyd, chairman of The University of Akron Foundation.

By making this donation, Dr. H. Reid and Susan Smucker Wagstaff have added to the Smucker family's legacy of support to higher education in Wayne County. The Wagstaffs, who see this gift as a way to help lower students' financial burdens, also made the gift as a way to honor Susan Wagstaff's pro-education parents, the late Paul and Lorraine Smucker, as well as in admiration of the 15-year tenure of UA President Luis M. Proenza "in tribute to his exceptional leadership of the University."

Proenza announced in August that he will leave the presidency June 30, 2014.

In recognition of the Wagstaffs' commitment, UA's Board of Trustees will name the entrance to the Wayne campus "The H. Reid and Susan Smucker Wagstaff Way." The entrance will be commonly referred to as "Wagstaff Way." A ribbon-cutting ceremony christening the entrance will be held at a later date.

Legacy of generosity

"The Wagstaffs, with the historic contributions of the Smucker family, are examples of the commitment the University enjoys from those who support its mission and vision, and not just with their financial support, but with their hearts,” said Philip Lloyd, a UA alumnus and chairman of The University of Akron Foundation, in announcing the gift today. "These scholarship dollars for our students come from a generous family who are part of a community which understands the value of education as the formula for success."

The Wayne College campus in Orrville.

The gift of scholarships further extends the Smucker and Wagstaff families' ties to UA. The Orrville-based J.M. Smucker Company is a long-time partner and friend of the University, with many UA alumni employed by the company. Susan Wagstaff's father, Paul Smucker, helped to lead the charge for creation of a UA branch campus in Wayne County in the late 1960s.

The families' past contributions to Wayne College students include the Paul H. Smucker Memorial Scholarship, the Paul and Lorraine Smucker Learning Center and the J.M. Smucker Multipurpose Room at the Wayne campus. In addition, The J.M. Smucker Company provided a $1 million, multiyear gift in 2012 to establish the Institute for Leadership Advancement to UA's College of Business Administration (CBA). The institute develops the next generation of business leaders who can think critically and lead from any level, college graduates who are work-ready and able to hit the ground running.

"I am heartened and so thankful for the generosity to The University of Akron and Wayne College by Reid and Susi Wagstaff," Proenza said. "I'm also grateful for their families' long-time commitment to education and to the University in particular. Their commitment to our students and their families reminds us that reasons for giving often go far deeper than what one might imagine. Many families hold a deeply-rooted allegiance to The University of Akron and its ideals. The Smuckers are one of those families."

Media contact: Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or massie1@uakron.edu.