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ASU holds Eugene W. Smith Hall dedication May 29

June 2, 2009 -- To honor Arkansas State University president emeritus, Dr. Eugene Smith, for leadership and service to the university, the Eugene W. Smith Hall was dedicated in an afternoon ceremony Friday, May 29. The building, which now bears Dr. Smith’s name, is the newly renovated Chickasaw Student Services Center located at 106 North Caraway Road across from the Student Union.

ASU’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution Sept. 12, 2008, to rename the structure housing the Center for Excellence in Education, which administers the doctoral program in educational leadership. Also in Smith Hall are University College programs, the Center for Regional Programs, three departments of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, including Social Work, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences.

“Today is another special milestone in the history of our university,” said ASU-Jonesboro chancellor Robert L. Potts. “I am pleased that this ceremony, recognizing president emeritus Eugene W. Smith, is occurring during our Centennial observance. Arkansas State College became a university in 1967. Even though he was not yet president at that time, Gene Smith was very closely involved with the work and the preparations that went into attainment of university status by act of the General Assembly. Arkansas State University has matured into a comprehensive university with both teaching and research missions.”

Chancellor Potts went on to say that much of the institution’s development occurred during Dr. Smith’s tenure.

“In two weeks, I’ll have my 79th birthday, and 61 of those years have been associated with Arkansas State,” said Dr. Smith. “It is an honor to be a part of this institution and an honor to have a building named after me which is dedicated to education.”

He also said he was touched by the presence of family, friends, and former co-workers who filled the lobby of Smith Hall to watch him receive a duplicate plaque of the original which will be placed in the entrance.

Dr. Smith, a 1952 graduate of then-Arkansas State College, went on to serve in faculty and administrative roles at the school, including dean of the Graduate School. He was named ASU’s eighth president Feb. 15, 1984, and retired in 1992. He returned to the position on an interim basis Sept. 1, 1994, while a search was conducted for a new president, and remained until July 1, 1995 when Dr. Les Wyatt came on board.

“All of us who have been associated with Arkansas State University in the past 50 or so years have been touched in one way or another by Gene Smith,” said Dr. Wyatt, ASU System president. “He has taught us, he has inspired us, he has supported us. We appreciate Dr. Smith for all he means to this institution.”

The Board of Trustees passed a resolution at the Sept. 12, 2008 meeting “for the recognition of significant contributions to Arkansas State University-Jonesboro by Dr. Eugene W. Smith, President-Emeritus.”  The resolution notes that much of ASU’s growth and development occurred under Dr. Smith’s leadership, including establishment of the institution’s first doctoral degree program in educational leadership, major expansion of the Dean B. Ellis Library, moving ASU to Division 1 membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and accomplishment of early steps toward formation of the Arkansas State University System.

“The members of the Board in 1984 were wise to select Eugene W. Smith as president,” said Board vice chair Florine Tousant Milligan. “They knew he was a dedicated and effective administrator in various capacities for many years prior to becoming president. During his tenure, the university experienced a tremendous amount of growth and progress.”



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