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Smith Family Supports the

Qubein Arena and


Conference Center with


Major Gift


High Point University parents Margaret and Elmer Smith of Roswell, Georgia, recently gave a major gift in support of the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center and the adjoining Jana and Ken Kahn Hotel. In honor of the Smiths, an executive suite in the Jana and Ken Kahn Hotel will be dedicated for them.

“High Point University prides itself on providing a distinctive life skills education for each of our students, where they are presented with opportunities to apply their knowledge in practical settings,” says HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein. “The arena, conference center and hotel are learning labs where students can test classroom theory in real-world scenarios, and with the philanthropic support of our alumni, friends and family, this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind building has been brought to reality.”

The Smith family is extremely involved with the higher education community, both professionally and personally. Between Elmer and Margaret, the couple has more than 70 years of combined experience in the education field ranging from grade school to higher education. This makes them very aware of what it takes to run a successful institution.

“The most rewarding aspect of being an educator is the positive feeling you get watching students learn new skills and grow their self-confidence,” says Elmer Smith. “High Point University provides a very nurturing environment and I strongly believe in the approach the university takes in educating students. We made the decision to support the university because the student experience at HPU is a model for the value higher education should represent and we want to be a part of what makes the institution extraordinary.”

Margaret and Elmer have two children, Maria “Mia” and Christian. Mia is currently a sophomore criminal justice major at HPU, and Christian is a junior business marketing major at Georgia State University.

As a young man, the opportunity to attend college was a dream for Elmer. He graduated from Morehead State University in 1971 with a degree in business education and began his career as a high school business education teacher in Mason County, Kentucky. He continued to work in different positions and levels of education until he became the president of Akers Learning Center in January 1986. The school was one of the first institutions to use the microcomputer as a teaching tool, and in November 1986, Elmer bought the school and rebranded it into the Interactive College of Technology (ICT). The college currently has seven campuses, located across Georgia, Kentucky and Texas, and has several different programs in disciplines such as office technology information systems and HVAC. ICT also offers the largest vocational English as a second language program in the country.

As the owner and CEO of ICT, Elmer met Margaret when he visited the Houston, Texas, campus in 2010. Margaret started at ICT as an admissions representative before transitioning to a financial aid officer. She left the company in 2011 and married Elmer in 2013. Prior to her employment with ICT, Margaret worked with the Houston Independent School District as a compliance analyst. In her role, she was responsible for ensuring data and record keeping complied with federal, state and local laws, as well as board policy. In addition to helping her area maintain compliance, she trained K-12 campuses on the compliance procedures, regulations, policies and guidelines. Now, Margaret owns the women’s clothing boutique, Scout and Molly’s, located in Alpharetta, Georgia, and over the last year she served as the head of the business office at the Chamblee, Georgia, ICT campus. In January 2022, Margaret became the internal auditor and financial aid trainer for ICT.

For more information on how to support the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center and the Jana and Ken Kahn Hotel, please contact Chris Dudley, Senior Vice President for Development, at cdudley@highpoint.edu or McKennon Shea, Assistant Vice President for Development, at mckennon@highpoint.edu.

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