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Arthur Smith to step down as dean

Professor Arthur C. Smith, dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, will conclude five years of service to the Institute in that post at the end of the current academic year and resume his role as a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where he has been a faculty member since 1959.

Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who made the announcement, said:

"I am extremely pleased with the job that Dean Smith and his colleagues have done in building a combined effort in the areas of student affairs and undergraduate education. The Institute's faculty and students have been extremely well-served by an extraordinary leader who has developed an exceptional team committed to building synergy between aspects of student life and the more formal aspects of undergraduate education. Art Smith has been a valuable colleague as a member of Academic Council and has been supportive of efforts to strengthen the Institute's educational programs. During his tenure as dean, Professor Smith has overseen the development of programs designed to build more faculty-student interaction and has encouraged innovative educational programs. His leadership has been a significant contributor to building MIT's image as an outstanding institution for undergraduate study. More important, the substance associated with these perceptions is rich and deep. I have valued Dean Smith's wisdom, insights, and hard work on behalf of our students and faculty."

Professor Wrighton said that he and President Charles M. Vest "remain committed to strong faculty-student links in undergraduate education and student life, building on the foundation that Dean Smith has laid down."

President Vest said that "Dean Art Smith is a wonderful colleague and a very effective advocate for students who has lent much to the special character of MIT. I have found him to be wise, perceptive and innovative in thinking about and acting upon student issues. I look forward to working with him throughout this school year, and surely will seek his counsel from time to time after he returns to the classroom."

The provost said that he will name an advisory group to help him in selecting the next dean of undergraduate education and student affairs. That person will be expected to build on the accomplishments and vision set by Dean Smith and his team. The advisory group will include faculty, students and staff and is expected to be at work by mid-October. The provost's goal is to appoint a successor who will take over at the start of the 1995-96 academic year, he said.

Professor Smith agreed to serve as acting dean in July 1990, succeeding Shirley McBay. A year later, he was appointed to a two-year term as dean for student affairs. A subsequent administrative reorganization by Professor Wrighton added undergraduate education responsibilities after the death of Dean Margaret MacVicar, who served as MIT's first dean of undergraduate education.

Before becoming acting dean, Professor Smith had involved himself deeply in student matters, chairing several committees dealing with student affairs and academic policy. When he appointed Professor Smith acting dean, former provost John M. Deutch, now Deputy Secretary of Defense, referred to "his deep understanding of the institution and of the concerns of the students, developed over more than 30 years as a teacher, faculty leader, advisor and father of two graduates."

Professor Smith received the BS degree in physics from the University of Kansas in 1951, the MA in physics from Harvard University in 1954 and the PhD in applied physics from Harvard in 1958. He came to MIT as an assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1959, became associate professor in 1963 and was promoted to professor in 1968. His work has included studies in thermoelectric energy conversion and semiconductor research. He is the co-author of two textbooks on electronic conduction in solids and the author of a chapter on transport.

He has served as chairman of the Committee on Academic Performance (1972-74), the Committee on Privacy (1975-77), the Committee on Student Affairs (1979-81) and the Committee on Educational Policy (1983-85). He also was a member of the Minority Student Issues group.

Professor Smith was chairman of the faculty in 1983-85 and received the Gordon Y Billard Award for distinguished service to the Institute in 1987. In 1984 two of his daughters received degrees from MIT, Amy the SB in Course 2 and Abigail the SM in Course 12.

A version of this article appeared in the October 5, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 7).

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