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Horace Smith concludes decades-long SU career dedicated to creating opportunity in higher education
Horace H. Smith retired at the end of June as associate vice president for undergraduate studies at Syracuse University, concluding a 32-year SU career in which he played a central role in planning and implementing student retention policies and programs, according to Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina.
A developmental psychologist, Smith began his career at SU teaching adolescent psychology courses in the College for Human Development, a precursor to the present College of Human Ecology. He then served as associate director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and, eventually, director. He would go on to positions as associate dean of the former Division of Summer Sessions, associate dean of University College and associate vice president for undergraduate studies and university retention. Along the way, he completed his Ph.D. in developmental psychology at Cornell University after previously earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry at Hampton University and a master’s degree in special education at SU.
As associate vice president, Smith oversaw the Office of Student Support and Retention, which directed a range of programs designed to increase student retention, as well as participation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including GEAR-UP,HEOP, Student Support Services, the Syracuse Achievement Initiative Program, Summer Start, Summer College, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the Science and Technology Entry Program, the College Science and Technology Entry Program, the Office of Disability Services, and the Tutoring and Study Center. He authored grants to secure funding for many of these programs and was chair of the University’s Retention Council during a period of considerable improvement in the University’s retention and graduation rates.
Smith also led the conceptual development and implementation of the Partnership for Better Education (PBE), a program to which he dedicated his time exclusively in the final months of his career. PBE is a multifaceted collaboration with the Syracuse City School District through which SU faculty members and students are joining district faculty and administrators to explore innovative ways of increasing college attendance by district students. The program has garnered attention as a potential model for replication elsewhere.
“It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of Horace’s leadership on the many programs he oversaw,” Spina says. “He touched the lives of literally thousands of students and pioneered development and implementation of many of our retention strategies and mechanisms. The SU community is grateful for his many years of dedicated service. He truly has helped to make SU the diverse, caring institution that it is today.”
Smith earned many awards and recognitions over his distinguished career, including, most recently, the 2007 Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Access and Support. In 2006, he was honored by Operation LinkUp in Paterson, N.J., for supporting college access. In 2003, he was awarded the Higher Education Leadership Award by the Partners for Education and Business Organization. Previously, Noel-Levitz, a national retention consulting firm, honored Smith for developing SU’s Syracuse Academic Improvement Program (SAIP).
Characteristic of his career-long attitude of continually looking for new opportunities to grow, Smith remains focused on the future. “I look forward to many years of new horizons, challenges and fun in this stage of life with retirement,” he says.