Monday, October 08, 2012

Celebrating Henry Smith

In what must have been a surprise to most, President Henry Smith announced today that he would be retiring from the presidency of IWU and becoming Chancellor next year.  Interestingly, I've heard that 7 years is about the average for a college presidency.  It seemed fitting to take a moment and celebrate several great achievements during his time here.

First and foremost in my mind (no surprise here) is the founding of Wesley Seminary.  This was a noteworthy move on his part, since seminaries generally don't make money and so many are in spiral mode right now.  He took a risk and it has certainly paid off so far, especially under the leadership of Wayne Schmidt, a hire that ultimately has to go to Dr. Smith's credit also.

Punctuating the end of his tenure is the Health Sciences Initiative, with the beams of its 42 million dollar building beginning to tower over the campus.  This is an incredibly wise move for IWU to make, given predictions about how this segment will feature in the future job market.  Again, Dr. Smith must ultimately be given the credit for moving forward on it.

In the middle of his presidency were two other major achievements.  First, Dr. Smith adopted a global initiative that is still in its early stages at IWU.  This points to a missional mindset on his part. Certainly he had many on his team who were more than willing co-conspirators, but he must ultimately be given the credit for moving forward with this initiative.  The same goes for the university's strident efforts to become more diverse in its faculty and student body.

Finally, Dr. Smith should be celebrated for the way he moved the university toward a more balanced infrastructure and more appropriate work load.  The campus was on steroids when he came, with faculty doing massive overloads and a break neck pace everywhere. He slowed us down long enough to restructure for future growth and to move toward best practices, while deepening our academics.

Congratulations to Dr. Smith not only for these great achievements but for his continuing work with the global initiatives these next years as Chancellor!

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