Roanoke College received a $2.5 million bequest from the estate of the late Mary Ellen Hardin Smith, of Roanoke. The gift is the second largest by an individual in College history and will endow the Shields Johnson Scholarship, to provide financial assistance for students from the Roanoke Valley.
The scholarship is established in honor of Smith’s first husband, the late Shields Johnson, a 1931 graduate of Roanoke College and a former reporter, business manager, and vice president and general manager with Times-World Corp.
“This scholarship, born in the mind of Mary Ellen Hardin Smith decades ago, will now make education more affordable to students from the Roanoke Valley for years into the future,” Roanoke College President Michael Maxey says. “Her commitment to the Roanoke Valley and to the education of students was exemplary and Roanoke College is honored to establish this scholarship according to her wishes.”
Brenda Poggendorf, vice president of enrollment, says the gift “will impact students in significant ways as these scholarships will help top students from the area realize their dream of a Roanoke education.”
Smith, the former Mary Ellen Hardin, met Johnson when they were both students at Roanoke College. Smith was a charter member of Roanoke College’s Society of 1842, the leadership group for those who leave a gift to the college in their will. The group was established in 1982 and today includes 840 members.