CLAS Couple Gives Back
Dorothy and Terry Smiljanich are committed to the College and UF
One sunny day in 1967, Dorothy Weik and Terry Smiljanich sat beside each other during their University of Florida philosophy class in metaphysics and epistemology. It was their sophomore year, and they were both English majors. After class, the pair talked as they strolled across the Plaza of the Americas. That weekend, Dorothy and Terry went to see a campus performance of Carmina Burana together, and two years later (after graduating in June of 1969), they were married. Before the couple left Gainesville for Clearwater in 1972, Dorothy earned a master's in English and began her journalism career as a film reviewer for the Gainesville Sun, and Terry completed law school, where he was editor of the University of Florida Law Review.
The Clearwater area, where Dorothy grew up, proved a great place for the Smiljanichs to begin their careers. Terry became a clerk for The Honorable Ben Krentzman ('38), Federal judge in Tampa. Dorothy continued writing film reviews for the Clearwater Sun, then moved on to the St. Petersburg Times as film and theatre critic and finally to the Tampa Tribune, where she became a feature writer and travel editor. Terry eventually became a partner in the Tampa law firm of James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich. Dorothy left the daily newspaper world in 1994 to do travel writing as a freelancer.
Though their memories and love of the university remained strong, for many years Dorothy and Terry returned to Gainesville only for the occasional football game. That changed in 1987 during the university's first major fundraising campaign when the Smiljanichs became members of the campaign committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the campaign regional committee in Pinellas County. Since then, Dorothy and Terry have remained actively involved with the university. Today, both serve on the It's Performance That Counts campaign steering committee for CLAS and for the Tampa Bay regional campaign. They also serve on the English Department's advisory committee, and they visit campus frequently.
Additionally, the Smiljanichs have started giving back to the university financially, supporting programs that resonate in their lives. "We both had scholarships and loans and assistantships to help us with our college expenses," explains Dorothy, "so we always thought that at some time if we were in a position to help the university and its students, we would." They've contributed to a scholarship honoring Judge Krentzman and funded readings at the Writer's Festival in honor of Dorothy's creative writing professors, Harry Crews and Smith Kirkpatrick, whose classes, she says, "were among the most invigorating I took."
The first installment of the couple's $100,000 pledge to the present campaign has tapped into two of their loves. An amateur astronomer, Terry was delighted to fund equipment needed for a telescope in Astronomy, and Dorothy was happy to fund a film screening room in CLAS for English and film students to watch the movies they need to write about or review.
And just recently, Dorothy and Terry established a $1 million unrestricted bequest for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that will come to the university from their estate. Asked why they chose the university over other possibilities for the bequest, Dorothy says, "Education is the one thing that can never be taken away from you. It's much more valuable than money. We received more from UF and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences than we could ever return."