Scholarship Honors Late Professor’s Love for Teaching

Wade and Donna Smith

Donna Smith says the scholarship she established in honor of her late husband, Wade, is one way for him to stay in students’ lives.

Wade R. Smith found his calling when he became an adjunct professor in political science at Sacramento State. “Wade loved teaching and supporting students,” says his wife, Donna. “I had never seen him as happy as when he taught at Sac State.”

Teaching was Wade’s second career. After serving in Vietnam, he worked in manufacturing management. Donna shared that he never enjoyed the work, but he did find moments of joy when he had a chance to train and mentor his employees. A lifelong learner, Wade decided to go back to school later in life and pursue a law degree—one of the five degrees he completed. He had always loved being in the classroom as a student, and he translated his passion for education into a career teaching in higher education.

Wade SmithAfter he passed away in 2018, Donna made a gift to Sacramento State to establish the Wade R. Smith Memorial Scholarship. “I want to honor Wade’s legacy and his love for teaching. Although he can’t be here, this scholarship is one way for him to stay in students’ lives.”

Donna hopes that the scholarship relieves some of the financial burdens of college and sets students onto meaningful life paths. Each year since 2019, one student majoring in political science receives the Wade R. Smith Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship application asks students to examine an issue from all sides before deciding their position on the issue—Wade’s favorite final exam question in his classes, as it encourages students to think critically.

“Giving to this scholarship was one of the best things I did after Wade passed,” Donna says. “I know I’ve received much more back in return. I see the impact of the scholarship, and I know Wade’s name and his legacy will live on, even long after I am gone.”

You, too, can create a meaningful legacy that impacts future generations of Sacramento State students. Contact Lora L. Hollingsworth at (916) 278-6115 or to learn more about the many gift options available.