News and Events
Pepperdine Appoints Four New Members to the Board of Regents
Pepperdine University has announced four new additions to its 40-member Board of Regents, the governing board of the University. Mark A. Kirk, Bui Simon, Harold Smethills, and Marta B. Tooma have all accepted the role of helping to shape the direction of the University, effective July 1.
"Pepperdine has benefitted greatly over the years from the collective wisdom, will, and generosity of our regents," says Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton.
Bui Simon (BA '96), a native of Thailand, founded the Angels Wings Foundation International in 2002, which builds and funds schools and orphanages and supplies healthcare for underprivileged children in Thailand. She also established the Angels Wings Rural Teaching Scholarship to provide scholarships to Thai college students who commit to teaching in Thailand’s rural areas after their schooling is complete, and Simon established the Thai Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2008 to help Thai students who wish to come to the United States and study at Pepperdine. In recognition of her work, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand awarded her the Thai Royal Medal of Honor in 1988. Later that year, she was named United Nations Goodwill Ambassador of Thailand.
Simon was born in Thailand and moved to the United States when she was three years old. Born Porntip Nakhirunkanok, her nickname was “Bui,” which means “sleeping like a baby” in Thai. She has since made Bui her legal name. In 1988 she was crowned Miss Thailand and the following weeks won the Miss Universe title at the annual pageant held that year in Taipei, Taiwan. She was later an anchor for CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes 2/Thailand,” served as the Good Will Ambassador to The United Nations and has been a spokesperson for UNICEF and UNFPA. She has also been a spokesperson for Revlon, Colgate, and Pepsi and was a committee member of the Thai Tourism Authority.
A long-time resident of Malibu, Simon is the wife of Herbert Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers of the NBA and founder of Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall owner in the U.S. The Simons have a son and a daughter and they are raising the four children of Bui’s late sister who died in 2005.
Mark A. Kirk retired as a partner with Linsalata Capital Partners, a Cleveland, Ohio-based private equity investment firm in 2009. He currently serves on the board of T.D. Williamson, Inc., Transtar Holding Company and U-Line Holding Company. Prior to joining Linsalata Capital, which currently owns sixteen portfolio companies with aggregate revenues of approximately $ 1.4 billion, Kirk served as president, chief executive officer and a director of Scott Technologies, Inc., a Cleveland-based public company.
Kirk, a CPA, began his career in public accounting with KPMG and served as an audit manager with Deloitte and Touche. He is the former president, chief operating officer and a director of HMI Industries, Inc. and was senior officer, chief financial officer, and director of Anchor Glass, Grimes Aerospace and Facet Enterprises, Inc. He is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and serves on the board of Hope Network Ministries. He formerly served on the Board of Trustees of Rochester College, Board of Visitors of Abilene Christian University and President’s Council of Harding University.
He received his bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Harding University and completed the Advanced Executive Program of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Kirk and his wife, Robin, live in Hudson, Ohio and have three children; Allison, a Pepperdine sophomore; Alan, a 2010 Pepperdine graduate; and Ashley, a graduate of Wheaton College.
Marta B. Tooma is a dentist, businesswoman and philanthropist. Carrying on a family tradition of service from her parents and grandparents—who were missionaries—Tooma is actively involved in national and global philanthropic activities. She and her husband Thomas established The Mission at Natuvu Creek which ministers to the impoverished people of Fiji by providing world-class healthcare, counseling, and education in the areas of healthful living, entrepreneurship, job training, education, and spiritual growth. She also volunteers as a dentist in Sumba off the coast of Indonesia working with the head of malaria for the World Health Organization.
At Pepperdine’s Seaver College, Tooma and Thomas created the Tooma Science Research Fellowship to promote student and faculty collaboration and empower students pursuing careers in medicine.
Tooma received a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of California, Riverside. She completed studies in 1985 at the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry and pursued neuropathology research at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine between 1979 and 1981. She operated a private dental practice in Loma Linda between 1985 and 1996. Active in the Seventh Day Adventist church, Marta serves on the Board of Trustees of La Sierra University. Tooma and her husband, an ophthalmologist, live in Laguna Beach and they have two children. Their son, Julian, graduated from Seaver College in 2010.
Harold Smethills, principal, Sterling Ranch, brings extensive business experience to Pepperdine’s Board of Regents. He began his career in banking, finance, and investments and has led several major U.S. corporations. He held executive positions at United Banks of Colorado before becoming executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Adolph Coors Company while also serving on its board. He led the spin-off of all the non-brewery businesses into ACX Technologies, a new Fortune 500 company where he occupied the office of the President with Jeff and Joe Coors.
After leading significant growth at ACX, Smethills left to form his own investment management company managing a privately held real estate portfolio. He later was recruited as chief executive officer at American Business Products where he doubled the stock and merged the business. He then was tapped by a large, privately-held manufacturing business as CEO of Menasha Corporation where he restructured the company and brought its combined businesses back to over one billion in annual revenue.
As managing director and founder of Sterling Ranch, Smethills oversees all aspects of a 3400-acre proposed master planned development in northwest Douglas County. A third-generation Coloradan, he enjoys the state’s Western heritage as a rancher and outdoorsman.
Smethills is a retired colonel from the Colorado Air National Guard and was awarded the Legion of Merit. He received his bachelor’s of science, business administration in Finance from the University of Denver as well as his MBA and JD. Active in aerospace issues and education, he serves as Chairman of Wings Over the Rockies Museum, Colorado’s official Air and Space Museum, and he has been an active pilot for over 40 years. He also chairs the Board of Advisors of the American Studies Institute at Harding University.
He and wife Diane, a Sterling Ranch principal, are involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. The Smethills have two sons, Harold, a 2010 Seaver College graduate, and Ross, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University.
For more information, visit the University Board of Regents website.