Dear Fellow Cougs,

Among those of us blessed to be Washington State University alumni, some may remember Coach Don Smith. My love of WSU and the world of hospitality are because of Coach, first and foremost.

Coach Don Smith
Coach Don Smith

Webster defines “mentor” as “to teach or give guidance; a trusted counselor, tutor or COACH.” Don Smith (a former high school football coach) was more than just a mentor to many of us. His tools, rules and sayings, such as “The coach makes the difference,” still guide the principles of my daily life.

Though he will likely never know the impact he had on our lives, his teaching was a gift to thousands of us. It is my pleasure to announce creation of the Don Smith Distinguished Professorship in Hospitality in the Carson College of Business to honor Coach Smith’s legacy.

The professorship will support a faculty member who embodies the spirit of Don Smith as an excellent teacher, strong mentor and accomplished industry professional.

Please visit and join me in making a gift to support the legacy of Coach Smith so that other students may experience the teaching excellence he brought to the classroom every day of his career at WSU.


If Coach had a positive impact on your life, consider sharing your personal story and/or photos with others in the Carson College of Business by emailing We would also appreciate you sharing this news within your Coug network.


Chris Burdett (hotel and restaurant administration ’90)