Saint Mary's School News

Saint Mary's announces largest gift in school history: $7 million lead gift to support construction of new academic science building

Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina, announced Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, at a Saint Mary’s Forever campaign event on the school’s campus, that the school will receive a gift of $7 million this fall from Henry and Tracey Fodor Smith of Farmville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the largest single gift to the school in Saint Mary’s 180-year history. The donation is the lead gift to help fund the construction of a new academic science building on the school’s historic campus.

With a focus on innovative technology experiences and expanded interdisciplinary collaboration, the new academic center will be an integral part of the school’s academic corridor and will facilitate programming to promote students’ motivation and ability to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) studies. The facility, projected to open in 2025, will engage girls in hands-on field experience, laboratory/project-based entrepreneurial tasks, and mentorship experiences. The gift secures naming rights to the facility, to be determined later.

Henry and Tracey Fodor Smith are parents of Saint Mary’s alumna Hannah Smith, Class of 2012. Mrs. Smith served previously as a member of the school’s board of trustees, and the family has supported the school and its mission previously with other generous and impactful gifts.

"Our inspiration to continue supporting Saint Mary’s School stems from our daughter's relationship to the school,” said Tracey Smith.  “Hannah graduated in 2012, and we are so proud of the person she has become as a result of attending SMS. We see the need for all-girls’ schools, and we hope our gift will benefit successful women for many years to come. Education matters!”

“Tracey and Henry Smith have set the bar higher than any fundraising effort in Saint Mary’s history,” said Saint Mary’s Forever campaign Chairs Frank and Ruth E. Holding in a statement. “Even in one of the most turbulent years in history, we see the value of passion and commitment through their extraordinary generosity. We are fortunate to have the best education in the country right here in the heart of Raleigh, and for girls, it all starts at Saint Mary’s. The Saint Mary’s Forever campaign is a bold move to transform our campus and, in return, the world through each girl who creates a path to change the world she is in through her leadership and growth, forever. There isn’t a better time to invest in education and in our school.”  

Under the leadership of Frank B. Holding, Jr. and Ruth E. Perry Holding ’81C, William and Aurelia Monk, Nancy Kerr Thomason ’73HS ’75C, and Anna Zevenhuizen ’07, the Saint Mary’s Forever campaign steering committee has created a campaign strategy to ensure the realization of Saint Mary's campus master plan and the sustainability of Saint Mary’s mission and vision for future generations. The campaign is focused on three pillars – financial sustainability, growing the endowment, and academic integration and innovation. The campaign, which kicked off its silent phase in 2018, has raised more than $41 million to date. With the help of Raleigh-based campaign counsel Armstrong McGuire, campaign planning is focused on strategies to provide the resources to meet the objectives of the campus master plan, which includes the construction of the new building, the first academic facility built at Saint Mary’s since the Ragland Classroom Building opened in 1971.  

“On behalf of Saint Mary’s, I offer heartfelt thanks, to Tracey and Henry Smith, for this extraordinary lead gift towards the construction of our new academic building, which will serve our science, technology, and mathematics programs,” says Saint Mary’s Interim Head of School Carol Killebrew. “STEM fields are the way of the future, and Saint Mary’s girls are poised and ready to make an impact in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our STEM programs continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our students, and this new academic building will magnify the opportunities we can provide girls in these fields so important to the world in which they live.”

To learn more about the Saint Mary's Forever campaign, click here.

For questions regarding the Saint Mary's Forever campaign, contact Julie Ricciardi, CFRE, associate head for institutional advancement, at or 919-424-4114.

About Saint Mary’s School: Saint Mary's School in Raleigh, North Carolina, is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Founded in 1842, the historic, residential 23-acre campus is located in the heart of North Carolina's capital city of Raleigh. With a mission to prepare girls for college and life, Saint Mary’s immerses girls in a dynamic learning environment offering both hands-on classroom learning and opportunities for real-world experiences. Graduates leave Saint Mary’s prepared to flourish in college, continue a path of servant leadership, take on future challenges, and lead with purpose. Saint Mary's School inspires girls to step outside their comfort zones, engage their minds, amplify their voices, and discover who they are and who they want to become. For more information, visit