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 State System of Higher Education Selects Dr. Robet M. Smith as SRU President 



News Release from Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education



Thursday, April 20, 2004




          HARRISBURG -- Following an 11-month nationwide search, the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Educations Board of Governors has selected Dr. Robert M. Smith to serve as the next president of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Smith has served as Slippery Rocks interim president since December 2002.


         Dr. Smith came to the University in 1999 as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Previously, he was dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He began his academic career as an associate professor of communications at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas.

         “The search for a new president for Slippery Rock University produced an impressive pool of candidates from across the nation,” said Board of Governors’ Chairman Charles A. Gomulka. “The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is fortunate to have in Dr. Smith an individual with the vision and talent to lead Slippery Rock University forward.”

         Chancellor Dr. Judy G. Hample called Dr. Smith “a proven leader with a commitment to academic and university excellence.”

         “Dr. Smith’s experience working with students and faculty at virtually every level of campus administration will continue to serve Slippery Rock and the Commonwealth well,” Dr. Hample said.“I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Smith and the innovative ideas he brings to the table,” said Dr. Robert Marcus, chair of Slippery Rock University ’s Council of Trustees. “We have seen his leadership in action during the past 16 months and it has been exemplary. His communication skills, academic background and genuine friendly nature, will undoubtedly continue to serve the university and the community in the coming years.”

         Dr. Smith said he was honored by his selection, and is excited about Slippery Rock University ’s future.

         “This is an exciting time at Slippery Rock University , and I am honored to have been selected as president,” he said. “I will commit my leadership to ensure that Slippery Rock University is recognized nationally for excellence in liberal education and providing career skills for students, and is a leader regionally in economic development – a place businesses and communities can count on to grow jobs and improve the quality of life.”

         Since being named interim president, Dr. Smith has worked with the University community to articulate a five-part vision for Slippery Rock, including the comprehensive development of the campus physical plant. The University already has begun an $83 million project to renovate and construct new residence halls, and will break ground this summer on a new $14 million science and technology building.

         Dr. Smith also has continued to refine the University’s enrollment management program, which he implemented upon his arrival as provost five years ago. Prior to 1999, the University had experienced nine consecutive years of declining enrollment. In the past five years, enrollment has increased by more than 15 percent and student retention has increased by 8 percent. Meanwhile, the average Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores of the most recent incoming class increased by 32 points over the previous year, and the percentage of entering freshmen graduating in the top 25 percent of their high school classes increased by 14 percent.

         During his interim presidency, Dr. Smith helped establish along with 12 other colleges and universities an innovative regional alliance to promote economic development throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. He also joined Slippery Rock Borough Economic Development, Inc., in its effort to revitalize the downtown area.

          During his more than three-year tenure as Slippery Rock’s provost, Dr. Smith established an aggressive plan to secure academic accreditation for all eligible programs, and led the revitalization of the University’s Honor’s Program. He also directed the reorganization of the University’s academic colleges in order to enhance teaching and researchand attract external resources for academic programs, and directed the plan for a $6.5 million upgrade of the campus computer network.

         Dr. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication with minors in mathematics and education from Wichita State University, a master’s degree in interpersonal communication from Ohio University and a doctoral degree in communication theory with a minor in research methodology from Temple University.

         Upon graduating from Wichita State in 1967, Dr. Smith joined the University’s faculty as an associate professor of communications, a position he held for 10 years. He spent a total of 19 years at Wichita State, also serving as director of the Oral Communication Program, as chair of the Department of Speech Communication, and as associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

         In 1987, Dr. Smith joined the faculty and administration at the University of Tennessee at Martin as a full professor in the Department of Communication and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. He also served as executive director of WestStar Leadership Development Program from 1989-99 and as director of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Humanities from 1996-99, which each year offered talented and gifted high school students a four-week, summer residency program.

         With more than 104,000 students, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth.  Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study.  Nearly 400,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

         The PASSHE universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania .  The System also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Kittanning, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. 

The regional centers are part of the Educational Resources Group, which is responsible for coordinating statewide programming.

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Contact:Tom Gluck, (717) 720-4061


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