By Lori Putnam

Under a bright Ventura County sky, friends, family members, and admirers of Martin V. “Bud” Smith gathered in front of the new Martin V. Smith Center for Integrative Decision-Making to celebrate another milestone in the legacy of the noted Oxnard entrepreneur and philanthropist.

“My grandfather hedged all of his bets on Ventura County,” said Woodward Gardiner, son of Smith’s daughter, Toni S. Gardiner, and a featured speaker at the April 3, 2009, building dedication. “He’d be pleased to know that the school of business in Ventura County and this Center are now open for business.”

The MVS Center ceremony drew a standing room-only audience as President Richard R. Rush welcomed guests that included members of the Smith family, city and county government representatives, local business leaders, students, staff, and faculty. Smith, fondly called “Mr. Oxnard” for his role in the growth and development of Oxnard, was a true American success story according to Rush. “He was a person who could see the future when others had difficulty seeing the present,” remarked Rush.

State of the Art

The MVS Center is a testament to Smith’s forward-thinking business style. The 4,148 square-foot facility features a state-of-the-art 60-seat classroom equipped with two projection systems, scrolling LED ticker display, and advanced audio/visual system to encourage an interactive learning experience. Work stations include a power outlet, data port, and Internet access — essential tools for students participating in computer simulations. Two adjacent conference rooms support smaller group meetings. An expansive lobby allows for the possibility of expanding the MVS Center into a larger conference facility in the future.

According to William P. Cordeiro, Director of the MVS School of Business & Economics, the MVS Center crystallizes the school’s philosophy of the three Cs: critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. “Generally what employers want to see from graduates are the ‘three Cs’: can they work with each other, think on their feet, and communicate effectively,” said Cordeiro. The MVS Center will also serve as a place to conduct research in group decision making.

A Builder of Communities

During the ceremony, Cordeiro reminded the audience that above all else, Smith was a builder — of family, of relationships, of successful businesses, and of communities. The MVS Center continues Smith’s legacy by building futures. “The Center offers a physical setting and a virtual presence to promote learning with students and the community,” added Cordeiro.

Alexandra Mitchell, Student Government President, echoed Cordeiro’s sentiments. “Because of you,” said Mitchell, addressing both the Smith family and other key supporters, “CSUCI students can envision and obtain a bright future.”

Smith launched his career with a hamburger stand that became the foundation for his first restaurant, the Colonial House. When he returned from the Army Air Corps in 1944, he built an Oxnard icon, the Wagon Wheel Restaurant Motel. Over the course of half a century, Smith’s portfolio would grow to include more than 200 properties including the Oxnard Financial Plaza.

According to Smith’s daughters, their father loved Ventura County. “He saw the county as a land of great opportunity that was a fabulous place to raise a family and make a living,” said Victoria V. Pozzi, speaking on behalf of her sisters. “He was very appreciative of its residents for supporting his endeavors and enterprises. He listened to their opinions and respected their ideas.”

Today, the four sisters follow in their father’s footsteps. “Our family believes in the people of Ventura County,” added Pozzi, “and by contributing to CSUCI, it provides a way for residents to stay in the county to realize their dreams, finish their education, and then continue to help the county grow.”

The MVS Center will officially open to students in the fall, and the facility will be made available to organizations and businesses as well.