May 3, 2012
Nearly two dozen students gathered in the lobby of Perkins Hall on East Green Tuesday night for a farewell gathering featuring Kent Smith, vice president of student affairs at Ohio University.
The evening was a testament to Smith and his "people first" approach, and featured a look back at his career in student affairs as well as a look forward to his impending role as president of Langston University.
Smith will be the second youngest university president in the nation once he begins his new role as president of the historically black Langston University, located in Oklahoma.
He said that his decision to pursue this opportunity "has nothing to do with OU, and everything to do with my family and living out a dream."
As the new president of a university of 3,000 students, Smith hopes to institute new traditions like those of Ohio University, like President Roderick J. McDavis' First-Year Student Convocation, and the first-year march through the University gates on College Green.
"My goal is to put some fun into education," Smith said, as well as "create traditions for each class."
He credits his time under McDavis and the student population at Ohio University for some of his inspiration and motivation as he moves forward with his career.
"Bar none, the best thing I like about Ohio University is the students are engaged," Smith said.
He said he will miss the unusually tight-knit atmosphere amongst the student body and the administration, which is not typical of a school as large as OHIO.
When asked what piece of advice he would leave the student population, Smith was quick to offer his own personal philosophy that more than education is necessary for a prosperous life or academic career.
"The main piece of advice I would tell you is always put people first," Smith told the assembled students.
Andres Obregon, a resident of Perkins hall who attended the farewell event, appreciated Smith's personable approach.
"You can talk to him not just as an OU worker, but as an actual person who can share ideas," Obregon said.
Brian Rolinc, senior resident assistant of Perkins Hall, who also attended the event plans to continue his career in student affairs one day says that he, "enjoyed learning from his [Smith's] philosophy."
The evening ended with Grant Hesser, president of the Shively/Perkins complex hall council, presenting Smith with a commemorative plaque.
Smith could only underscore his philosophy once again, "Never underestimate the power of putting people first."