Robert B. Smith, PhD, is a noteworthy academic administrator, educator and historian who has amassed over 55 years of experience in his fields. Serving as the local historian for Idyllwild, California, since 2008 and a local newspaper columnist from 2010 to 2016, he formerly served Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, in several capacities. Recognized as a provost emeritus since 1998, he previously served the university as assistant to the president from 1996 to 1998, provost from 1993 to 1996 and vice president of academic affairs from 1981 to 1993. At the inception of his career in 1961, he served the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as an assistant professor. He soon escalated through the ranks to associate professor, full professor, department chair and the dean of science, engineering and mathematics.
Fascinated with science from an early age, Dr. Smith found the progression into teaching to be natural. Dissatisfied with the teaching modalities he experienced growing up, he subsequently explored different varieties of teaching until settling into administration, where he approached the field with a personalized touch. Over the course of many years, Dr. Smith discovered ways of teaching and administrating that differed from the norm; however, they worked just as effectively. Among the highlights of his career, he is proudest of serving as a catalyst for bringing a parochial regional university into becoming nationally recognized in community relations and collaborative learning. When he was teaching in the 1960s, Dr. Smith was part of a rising generation of teachers who tried to rethink how chemistry was taught. It did not take hold until decades later, and now it has become quite popular in terms of collaborative learning. Likewise, he integrated women into leadership and faculty positions, thus changing the institution.
As a testament to his success and longevity in the field, Dr. Smith was a winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition in 1992 and received a fellowship from the National Science Foundation between 1956 and 1961. Likewise, he has been highlighted in over 15 Who’s Who publications. Looking toward the future, he intends to continue serving as a historian and write more books.
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