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University of Charleston Announces $1.5 Million Gift - Opens New Simulation Lab

Release Date:  Friday, March 22, 2013

UC nursing student Joe Cantley explains the capabilities of one of the new manikins to Justice Tom McHugh 

UC nursing student Joe Cantley explains the capabilities of one of the new manikins to Justice Tom McHugh. 

Charleston, W.Va. – Students in the University of Charleston’s Health Science Programs have a new place to practice real-world procedures thanks in part to a $1.5 million donation to the school from the Estate of former Kanawha County Circuit Judge Robert K. Smith. The new simulation lab located in Riggleman Hall was unveiled on Friday, March 22 to a crowd of faculty, students and family of Judge Smith.

“The University of Charleston is truly humbled by the generosity of Judge Smith and his family,” said UC President Ed Welch. “Donations of this nature are truly transformative for our institution. The funds received from this gift will assist in the education of current and future UC students for many generations.”

The new Health Science Simulation Lab will help benefit the University’s nursing and physician assistant (PA) students. It features realistic, computer operated simulation manikins, which allow students to practice actual medical techniques to see how the patient responds, from inserting an IV to delivering a baby. The manikins have the ability to bleed and sweat, and can be programmed with many different ailments and conditions. Their conditions can be changed on the fly to see how students react in pressure situations. 

The lab received $250,000 from the donation, with another $500,000 going to fund nursing scholarships. The other half of the $1.5 million will help establish a new English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at UC, with $500,000 purchasing necessary technology and $250,000 establishing an endowment toward the salary of ESL instructors.

The Smith family has strong ties to UC. Judge Smith was a faculty member of the former Morris Harvey College (now University of Charleston) and his daughter, Robyn, received her education degree from MHC in 1975 to launch her career as a Spanish teacher. Both Robyn and his wife Mary, a longtime nurse, preceded Judge Smith in death.  

Judge Smith ("Bob") was a World War II veteran, serving in the U. S. Army Air Force in 40 bombing missions while on board a B-24 aircraft in the Allied Forces India Burma Theater. He attended Charleston High School, and was a member of Charleston German Club. He was a graduate of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, a member of Phi Alpha Delta and Zeta Kappa Fraternities. The Judge shared a private law practice with Judge John Charnock Jr., as well as the late Judge Cyrus Hall and John Charnock Sr. In 1962 he was elected domestic relations judge, and in 1974 he became a Kanawha County Circuit Judge. Judge Smith retired in 1986 after 24 years of judicial public service. Following that retirement, he continued to work as a Judge Mediator and Special Judge in Senior Status.

“Smith was made to be a judge,” said Dr. Welch. “He had the right blend of firmness, compassion, and fairness. Above all else, he was just a decent man. As is often said, but rarely seen, he was a gentleman and a gentle man. His family’s legacy will live for many years at the University of Charleston.”

The 2012-13 academic year marks UC’s 125th anniversary as an academic institution. UC was founded in 1888 as Barboursville Seminary, renamed Morris Harvey College in 1901, moved to Charleston in 1935 and was renamed the University of Charleston in 1978. 

Nieces of Judge Robert Smith, Nancy Brown and Margaret Kherlopian, cut the ribbon for the new simulation lab with UC nursing student Joe Cantley 

Nieces of Judge Robert Smith, Nancy Brown and Margaret Kherlopian, cut the ribbon for the new simulation lab with UC nursing student Joe Cantley 

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