Huntington, Ind.—Faculty, staff, alumni and friends have established an endowed lectureship in honor of Dr. Gerald D. Smith, professor of physics and chemistry, who retired this year after 42 years of service to Huntington University.
Several years ago, Smith, using personal funds, spearheaded the development of the lecture series “Christians Making a Difference in the Sciences.” The purpose of this lecture series was to introduce students to professionals serving in various disciplines of the natural and mathematical sciences.
With the participation of donors, this lecture series has been renamed the “Gerald D. Smith Lecture Series in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences.” This new permanent endowment will provide funding annually to the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences for the continuation of this lecture series. Smith’s son, Michael, presented the first lecture of the new series in May.
Since joining the faculty in 1967, Smith served his alma mater as both a faculty member and senior administrator. He became Huntington’s longest-serving academic dean, then returned to full-time teaching in 1998.
Smith is well-known for his innovative in-class demonstrations, including lying on a bed of nails, suspending a bowling-ball pendulum from the ceiling, and propelling himself down the hall with a fire extinguisher.
“How can I begin to measure the impact of Jerry Smith on Huntington University – a man who has taught generations of students and alumni, has helped plan most of the buildings on campus, and at one point, had hired most of the faculty?” said Dr. G. Blair Dowden, president. “He has been my colleague, and my friend, throughout my entire presidency.”
Following his retirement, the university’s Board of Trustees conferred on Smith the ranks of professor emeritus and dean emeritus.
In addition, a resolution by the board commended Smith for “impacting our world for Christ through scholarship and service.”
“Jerry Smith is a man of many talents and accomplishments who lives out his Christian faith in a quiet, powerful way, ministering to his alma mater and to the many colleagues and students that have graced her halls these past decades,” said Dr. Francis Jones, professor of mathematical sciences. “He has been an enormous influence on my life and career and on those of scores of others.”
Jones added that some of Smith’s accomplishments while at Huntington include
Serving as a faculty member from 1967-1982 and 1998 to the present with a year off to complete his graduate studies.
Teaching a popular liberal arts physics class featured on YouTube.
Students enrolling in physics courses even though Huntington does not offer a physics major.
Bringing radio astronomy to HU as well as muon research.
Influencing the design of the Science Hall and several other buildings on campus.
Serving as a faculty leader, both formally and informally; chairing the Faculty Concerns Committee and the Science Division.
Serving as dean following nearly a decade of great difficulties for the university, including an enrollment of less than half the current one.
“Bringing an open, supportive and collegial style of leadership as dean, which did wonders for morale as well as serving as a key framework for the university’s growth and development as an institution.”
Building a strong, vibrant faculty as dean.
Acting as a strong proponent of Christian liberal arts.
Vigorously defending faculty in their work.
Leading the computerization of the campus and its entry on to the Internet.
Editing the manual, the handbook and catalog.
Personally making sure classrooms were supplied before classes began (TVs, chalk, etc).
Those wishing to contribute to “Gerald D. Smith Lecture Series in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences” may send their gifts, payable to Huntington University, to the Office of Advancement, 2303 College Avenue, Huntington, Ind., 46750.