Cornell University and its graduate business school made a big difference for John M. Smith back in 1974, and maybe even bigger to CRST International, the family’s business, to which Smith returned after earning his MBA at Cornell.
What Smith learned from his Cornell professors paid off, and today, CRST International is among the 10 largest truckload carriers in the nation, according to the family.
As a result, Smith and his wife, Dyan, have made a $10 million gift to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University to found the John and Dyan Smith Family Business Initiative.
“It is in the best interest of family businesses and the country for these businesses to be carried on for many generations,” said Smith. “With a focus on family businesses at Johnson, good research will be conducted, educational seminars will address the unique needs of family businesses, and prospective students will be drawn to Johnson because of the family business expertise on campus.”
“One of the main reasons we are moving forward with CRST remaining within our family is because of education,” added Dyan Smith. “The initiative is the next step to putting Johnson in the forefront of family business management.”
The Smith Family Business Initiative is likely to be a game-changer for Johnson and for Cornell, both in the U.S. and the world, said Wesley Sine, faculty director of Johnson’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.
“Family businesses are the most common type of business on the earth, particularly in developing countries,” Sine said. “The greater the extent to which we help family businesses across the globe be more successful, the greater our relevance and the larger our impact.”
Recognizing that family businesses are the foundation of economic growth worldwide, Johnson is moving forward quickly with both research and new and innovative curriculum specific to them. Sine is currently developing the Smith Family Business Initiatives first two programs — a course that will focus on the benefits and challenges that are peculiar to family businesses; and the Smith Family Distinguished Family Business Lecture Series, which will bring executives from the world’s most successful family businesses to the Cornell campus.