A Gift by Design

Susan Smith

Susan Smith's license plate displays her passion for UofL

Just one look at the email address or license plate belonging to Susan Smith (A&S '78) tells you that Susan is a passionate University of Louisville alumna. Her passion extends beyond UofL's athletic teams to her astute eye for architectural detail and graphic design, as well as to the hands-on practical assistance she provides to individuals facing the "twists and turns of life."

Art has been a part of Susan's life since her earliest memories. She recalls that when childhood misbehavior led to time alone in her room, she would console herself with drawing on whatever paper was readily available. Later, she sought out art classes at the public library. While studying graphic design at UofL's Hite Art Institute—and taking every Art History course offered by Prof. Tom Buser and Prof. Dario Covi—Susan encountered a seemingly insurmountable financial hurdle when her father was laid off from his job shortly before her junior year.

"One of the most meaningful things that ever happened to me," Susan says, "was receiving a letter stating that I was the recipient of a Hite Scholarship. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to thank the university one way or another."

Susan leveraged her art degree into a 17-year career in graphic design, including freelancing that led to a multi-year stint at McCann Erickson/Detroit, the largest advertising agency in the world. In the years that followed, a diagnosis of breast cancer—29 years after an earlier primary cancer—made her wonder how her dream of giving back to UofL would materialize. The answer came in the form of her mother's estate, which enabled her to purchase a home and to regain financial stability.

"God gave me a chance twice with cancer," Susan says, "and I realized how important it was to share with others the gratitude I feel each new morning."

In addition to helping other cancer patients with gardening and daily tasks, part of Susan's gratitude-based sharing includes leaving a significant portion of her estate to charities. The portion that will benefit UofL's Department of Fine Arts will be used, appropriately, to create an endowed scholarship to assist a full-time fine arts major entering his or her junior year, with the scholarship renewable for the student's senior year.

For more information on how to express your gratitude to the University of Louisville through a gift in your estate plan, please contact the Office for Estate and Gift Planning at plannedgifts@louisville.edu or (502) 852-5051.