Dr. Robert M. Smith was named the 10th Chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin by the UT Board of Trustees in March 2017 and conferred the title of Chancellor Emeritus. Smith had served the university as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 1987 to 1999. In that period, he co-created the WestStar Leadership Program and served as executive director for ten years. He also served as director of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Humanities from 1996-99. From 1999-2012, he was Provost and then President of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, retiring as President Emeritus.
Smith returned to UT Martin in 2015 to guide the university through a series of historical achievements while addressing financial, enrollment, and accreditation obstacles. By the end of the period, the university had created new revenue models for both in-state and out-of-state students to increase investments in student progression and academic success; a strategic enrollment foundation that included the university’s first comprehensive marketing campaign; successfully removed probation status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges while simultaneously achieving initial accreditation for the computer science program, reaccreditation of engineering and business programs, and recorded two consecutive single-year fund-raising records.
At the end of his tenure, applications and admissions were increasing and the previous classes recorded historical records for ACT admission scores, the highest freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, as well as the highest six-year graduation rate. The reputation of the university expanded as acknowledged by more than two dozen national rankings including USNWR’s ranking among the top 20 public southern regional institutions, listing by Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc. as one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys,” and Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges in the Southeast” as well as “Best 294 Business Schools” rating.
Faculty and administrative innovation led approval of a new master plan and use of the Gallup/Purdue Index as guiding metrics for success. The first Living-Learning Communities and a reconstituted Career Planning and Development Center were introduced in 2016. Expanded veterans’ resources and a new lounge led to being honored nationally as a “Military Friendly School.” A 20,000 sq. ft. academic building and press box space in Hardy M. Graham Stadium was completed and ground-breaking occurred for the UT Martin Somerville Education Center. Looking to the future, Smith championed the vision of the engineering dean, faculty and students for an Innovation and Product Realization Facility where regional entrepreneurs will partner with UTM students; organized a regional workgroup with the city and county to develop the Northwest Tennessee Rural Convention Center and secured the single-largest financial gift in university history ($6.5 million) to build the Latimer Engineering and Science Building.
Dr. Smith and his wife, Ramona, live in Franklin, Tennessee. Their children, David and Angela, both graduates of UTM, live with their spouses, Brandon and Laura (also UTM graduates), in Knoxville, Tennessee and Raleigh, North Carolina respectively.
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Chancellor's Honor Roll
The outstanding academic achievements of undergraduate students at the University of Tennessee at Martin have been honored with publication of the Summer 2016 Chancellor's out of state Honor Roll and Summer 2016 Chancellor's in state Honor Roll.