Dr. Roderick L. Smothers

Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., was named 14th president of Philander Smith University on October 1, 2014, and began his tenure in January 2015. A dynamic scholar, transformative leader and forward-thinking visionary, Smothers is committed to building upon the institution’s strong and historic legacy, while advancing its mission to new levels of excellence. His focus is on strengthening academic programs, enhancing the college’s local and national presence, growing enrollment, increasing donor giving, and better equipping graduates with the qualifications, skills and resources that will allow them to compete in the globalized 21st century marketplace.

Previously, Smothers served as vice president for institutional advancement at two historically black universities: Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX, and Langston University in Langston, OK, where he was responsible for university development and fundraising, sponsored programs, marketing and public relations, external affairs, community engagement and alumni affairs. As an accomplished fundraiser, he has worked extensively with individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, and foundations along with federal, regional and state agencies, and holds a cumulative fundraising/grant writing record that exceeds $60 million.

While at Langston, Smothers also served as the associate vice president for academic affairs, assistant dean of the school of education and behavioral sciences and assistant professor of education. Years prior, he was on the faculty of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and was dean of enrollment management at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette. His higher education career began at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he spent eight years as an administrator in academic and student affairs. As a higher education professional, he is also experienced in conducting scientific and applied research, facilitating data-driven, community-based interventions, and training educators aspiring to leadership roles in elementary and secondary school administration. His research agenda includes the past, present and future of historically black colleges and universities; the transformation of toxic urban school districts, strengthening the secondary and post-secondary educational pipelines for African American males; effective mentoring programs; the access dilemma in higher education for minority students; and the effectiveness of state merit-based tuition programs.

A native of Vidalia, LA, Smothers earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public administration (with a concentration in higher education administration), and a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and counseling, all from LSU. He also holds a certification in fundraising management from The Fund Raising School at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Initiative. Additionally, he has served as a U.S. Air Force reservist with active-duty time spent during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Smothers holds membership in several professional organizations, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), American Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Research Association for Minority Professors (RAMP) and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). A strong youth, community and civic proponent, he currently serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Board of Directors. He formerly served on the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., National Board of Directors as its Southwestern regional vice president, and remains active at the local, regional and national levels. He looks forward to becoming engaged in service with the Central Arkansas community. In his leisure time, Smothers enjoys college sports, fishing, reading and traveling. He is the proud father of five children: Roderick Jr., Joshua, T’Keira, Wilson and T’Keyah.