College of Education dean to retire after 16 years

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

College of Education Dean Joan K. Smith speaks during her weekly office meeting Monday morning. (Helen Grant/The Daily)

The first woman to hold the position of Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education dean has announced she will retire this summer.

Joan K. Smith is nearing her 16th year as dean and will return to teaching and research after she officially retires June 30.

“I think there is a point where you need to bring new energy into administration and into leadership,” Smith said. “It’s been a good 16 years for me and when I looked around after the dedication of the renovation in the new wing and I thought about where everything was at this point in time and I thought…this is a really good time to turn it over.”

Smith is an educational studies professor and will continue her work after stepping down from her administrative position. She is currently teaching a graduate course on qualitative research, she said.

“Dean Smith is a strong advocate for education and has worked diligently toward improving education and standards,” Julie Comer, Smith’s secretary for the past 13 years, said. “Not only is Dean Smith a dedicated educator, but she’s a lady of character.”

Smith arrived at the university in August of 1995.

Prior to being appointed dean of the Rainbolt College, she served as a graduate school associate dean and as a faculty member at Loyola University in Chicago for 14 years, she said.

Smith sees herself as a leader who involves the faculty and students as much as she can. She takes great pride in the quality of the students and faculty in the Rainbolt College, she said.

“I think that over the 16 years the caliber of our student body has increased tremendously and they are dedicated for what they’re doing and those who are going into teaching will make excellent teachers,” Smith said.

Smith has made her students’ experiences at OU as meaningful as they can be, university spokesman Chris Shilling said.

“She has been fantastic,” Shilling said. “Any time a student has expressed concerns with classes or courses I have been able to go to her and talk about the issues and she has gone above and beyond to help.”

Smith has overseen an increase in scholarship money available from the Rainbolt College in her time as dean. When Smith took her post, the college had under $20,000 of scholarship money available and now has over $100,000 available, she said.

“I think that will become more and more important because the costs of higher education don’t go down and it will be important to be able to continue to support students through scholarships,” Smith said.

Smith has participated in many national societies and professional associations, she said.

She served as Board of Examiners chair for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and is a past president of both the state’s Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions, according to the Rainbolt College website.

Smith has been a great public servant to the university, Shilling said.

Smith said her successor will be chosen by OU President David Boren. An interim dean will likely be put in place for about a year and a national search will take place, Smith said.

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