A Study in Balance
August 15, 2011
An associate professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, Smith displays a steady balance between teaching classes, being a campus leader and serving in the community. For his continuous and ongoing efforts in all of those capacities, he was honored with the 2011 ASU President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Leadership/Service.
In his department, Smith has led the way by developing new courses, teaching research classes, mentoring award-winning student research presentations and coordinating efforts to recognize and reward worthy students. He also organized colloquia series and the department’s annual Mobius Festival. For his outstanding work in the classroom, he received the ASU Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.
“One of the best things about ASU is that it affords me an opportunity to work with some really great students,” Smith said. “Due to a great research scholarship program and an encouraging philosophy with regard to student research, I have been able to work on some really fun projects with a lot of different students.”
For the university, Smith has served on several high-profile committees, sponsors student organizations and has served on the Faculty Senate. He has also directed various UIL competitions and worked with area secondary school students on mathematical ideas.
“I appreciate the incredible collegiality at ASU; not just among the math department members, but across the campus,” Smith said. “All of the committees on which I have served are populated by people who are clearly committed to doing things well and making ASU better. It’s great to work with such neat people. I have also enjoyed working with members of virtually every department in one capacity or another.”
But it is not all about work for Smith as he balances his role on campus with active participation in the local community through work with his church and various non-profit organizations. He has also written and produced several plays performed by the ASU student theatre program.
“His plays make me think and laugh and wonder,” said ASU Theatre director Dr. Bill Doll. “They also make me really, really puzzled about how screwed up those wires in his head must be.”
But, perhaps the most obvious exhibition of Smith’s balance is when he is partaking in his unusual hobby of riding a unicycle. He can often be seen pedaling around campus, sometimes accompanied by students who have also become fascinated with single-wheeled transportation.
“I took up unicycling several summers ago, and it started out as a father-son thing with my then 11-year old son, Lee,” Smith said. “After we both learned, we got seriously hooked. Both of us are actually more into muni (mountain unicycling) and have gone on numerous trail rides together.”
A member of the ASU faculty since 1994, Smith earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ASU and his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. He is married to Laura Smith and they have three sons, Huston, Carl and Lee.