Feb. 7, 2007
By George Mauzy
When Vice President for Student Affairs Kent J. Smith Jr. arrived at Ohio University last summer, he knew his relaxation time would be precious.
The busy schedule hasn't dampened Smith's high-flying goals, though.
"I want to earn my pilot's license in the near future," Smith said. "I just have to talk my wife into it."
Smith's wife, Tiffany Hill-Smith, an attorney in the Ohio University Office of Legal Affairs, has tried to discourage her husband's desire to fly because of the safety risk, but she hasn't had much luck.
"I wish he would find a hobby that is a little safer, something that keeps him on the ground," she laughed.
Smith, a native of Baton Rouge, La., says he fell in love with the idea of flying when he accompanied a friend on a flight. He says surprisingly he wasn't scared of flying in a small plane with an amateur pilot. The university's aviation program and airport were key selling points when he decided to accept the position at Ohio University.
He may be temporarily grounded, but he's not idle. Smith is using his spare time to become physically fit. He has recently begun jogging a few days a week and played intramural flag football last fall.
"Flag football was fun because it helped me better understand the student experience at Ohio University," he said. "I played for the Student Affairs team, which was a mixture of students and staff, and in our last game we played Student Senate (he's the group's adviser). That was interesting! I'm going to play intramural softball in the spring."
In a few short months, Smith has become known for his tireless enthusiasm and work ethic -- traits he says he inherited from his parents.
"Both of my parents were educators and had great work ethics," Smith said. "They worked hard and taught me to appreciate life every day. They also taught me to value family time."
That is exactly what Smith has done. He says his family strives to eat dinner at home at least three days a week. He also wants to make sure he leaves a legacy with his family, starting with his 12-year-old son, Trey.
"I try to spend a lot of time with my son as much as possible," he said. "In fact, we recently started playing golf together. When I'm gone, I want my family to say I was a great father and husband and an all-around good person."
The Smiths are expecting the birth of another son in April, whom they will name Tyler. Kent also has a 15-year-old daughter, Morgan, who lives with her mother in Lafayette, La.
Smith says he is quickly adjusting to life in Athens and likes what he has seen so far.
"Athens has a good feel to it," Smith said. "Tiffany and I have taken to Athens and are excited about raising our family here and becoming more involved in the community."
George Mauzy is a media specialist with University Communications and Marketing.