Charles Edward Smith was the fifth executive administrator of the University of Tennessee at Martin presiding in office from 1980 to 1985. Dr. Smith was born in White County, Tennessee on May 19, 1939 to Cecil Edward Smith and Christine S. Newsome. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Tennessee in 1961, his Master of Arts degree in English from George Peabody College in 1966 and his doctorate in Higher Education in 1976.
He began a career in journalism in 1961 as the editor of the Sparta Expositor. Two years later, he became the managing editor of the Putnam County Herald and Cookeville Citizen. In 1964, he was hired on as an assistant news editor for the Nashville Tennessean. Changing career direction in 1967, Dr. Smith took a job as news bureau director for the University of Tennessee. By the end of the following year, he was promoted to Public Relations Director. Between 1971 to 1975, he served as the Executive Assistant to both the Chancellor and President of the University of Tennessee. In 1975, he was appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee at the Nashville Campus. He held that position for four years before returning to the editor's desk at the Nashville Banner in 1979.
In 1980, he was appointed as Chancellor to the University of Tennessee at Martin. For five years he served as the executive administrator before accepting a position as Vice President of the statewide university system for the University of Tennessee. In 1987, he was selected as the Commissioner of Education for the State of Tennessee. Dr. Smith also served as the Chancellor for The State University and Community College System of Tennessee.