N.C. A&T Chancellor’s Speaker Series to Feature Investor Robert F. Smith

By Tonya Dixon / 02/02/2024

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 2, 2024) – Continuing the second installment of the spring 2024 Harold L. Martin Sr. Chancellor’s Speaker Series, “Visionary Ventures,” North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will host founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners Robert Smith.

Named one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World, Smith will converse with speaker series namesake and N.C. A&T alumnus Martin during the event.  

The free speaker series event will take place Thursday, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m. in the Alumni-Foundation Event Center, 200 N. Benbow Road.

“Visionary Ventures” will come on the heels of the speaker series conversation “Standin’ on Business” featuring Issa Rae, who is slated to discuss entrepreneurship on Feb. 21.

This installment featuring Smith will expand further and dive into business principles, particularly relative to the foresight and knowledge needed for success and growth in the 21st century and beyond.

In 2017, Forbes named Smith one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Vista Equity Partners manages equity capital commitments of more than $100 billion and oversees a portfolio of over 80 software companies that employ more than 100,000 people worldwide. Since its founding, Smith has overseen more than 590 transactions completed by the firm representing more than $290 billion in aggregate transaction value.

The Colorado native trained as an engineer at Cornell University, earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. After he obtained his MBA from Columbia Business School, Smith worked at Kraft General Foods, where he earned two U.S. and two European patents. In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking.

Smith is the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the African American experience, safeguarding human rights, providing music education, preserving the environment while promoting benefits of the outdoors and sustaining critical American values.

In addition to being business savvy, Smith is a dedicated philanthropist. When he signed the Giving Pledge in 2017, his gift of $20 million was the largest by an individual donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Serving as moderator, Martin is the university’s 12th chancellor, bringing more than 30 years of transformative leadership experience in higher education to the role. He is the first alumnus to serve as the university’s chief executive.

Martin’s leadership has been distinguished by a focus on long-range strategic planning and tactical leadership that have dramatically improved A&T’s standing among the nation’s land-grant doctoral research universities, as well as among historically Black colleges and universities.

Martin was heralded as an education and business thought leader in TIME magazine’s August 2020 edition of “The Leadership Brief.”

Prior to his election as chancellor of A&T, he was senior vice president of academic affairs for the University of North Carolina System. He also served as 11th chief administrator/seventh chancellor of Winston-Salem State University and in several administrative posts at A&T including vice chancellor for the Division of Academic Affairs, dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native received his B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from A&T and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The Chancellor’s Speaker Series is free and open to the public.

Tickets for “Visionary Ventures” will be available from the University Ticket Office located in Brown Hall beginning Monday, Feb. 19.

Media planning to cover this event should contact Jackie Torok, university director of media relations, via email at jtorok@ncat.edu no later than Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m. to request credentials.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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