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Langston University President, Dr. Kent J. Smith, Jr., and his family
Published 04/04/2023

LANGSTON, Okla. – Langston University President, Dr. Kent J. Smith, Jr., announced today that he will retire as the institution’s 16th president at the end of the Spring semester in a message to the university community.

View President Smith’s message to the university here.

“My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed the years spent at Langston University,” said President Smith. “My children have grown up on our campuses. In fact, my youngest son’s middle name is Langston in honor of our great institution. We are blessed beyond measure to have been on this journey in service to our students and to the entire Langston University family.”

President Smith noted that his retirement from Langston University will conclude a 30-year career in education. He intends to follow his entrepreneurial pursuits as a business owner. “I have dreamt of building a legacy to leave for my five children and my grandson,” announced President Smith in his message. “I feel strongly that the time is right to begin a new chapter in my life.”

Dr. Kent J. Smith, Jr., took office as the 16th President of Langston University in June of 2012, following a long career as a higher education professional with an emphasis in student affairs. Dr. Smith brought a unique student-centered perspective to his role as President. Langston University has thrived under his leadership. He led the institution to many achievements and historic milestones. President Smith successfully led the University through multiple successful accreditations, administrative reorganizations, and budget reductions. Additional highlights from his presidential tenure include:

  • Cementing a modernized and unified brand for Langston University
  • Conservative fiscal leadership leading to healthy operating budgets and largest endowment in university history
  • Recruiting seven largest incoming freshmen classes in institutional history
  • Reimagining academic calendars for the benefit of students, employees, and their families
  • Navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on student wellness while avoiding the use of furloughs or reductions in staff
  • Negotiating the positive close to a long-standing Office of Civil Rights complaint involving the Langston University Tulsa Campus
  • Expansion of the Langston University – Tulsa Campus with $16.25 million in funding through Vision Tulsa economic development initiative
  • Renovation of the Student Success Center with $9 million in reserved budget to better serve students and our campus communities without taxing students
  • Securing the largest donations in university history including the donation of a permanent campus in Oklahoma City from Griffin Communications and the first named school from leading donor and alumnus, Sherman Lewis, to honor our School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
  • Creation of the first ever Campus Master Plan to serve as a road map for future development on the Langston Campus
  • Advocating for state match funding to fulfill requirements set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture in support of our students and programs in the Sherman Lewis School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
  • Forging new and countless partnerships supporting the success of students and employees

President Smith is regarded for his leadership and advocacy, serving on multiple local, statewide, and national boards including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Board of Directors and 1890 Council of Presidents for the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. In both roles, President Smith served as a stalwart advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide.

“We appreciate Dr. Kent Smith’s unwavering commitment to Langston University since he became President in 2012,” said Jarold Callahan, Chair of the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma A & M System. “As Regents, we express our gratitude to Dr. Smith for his focus on student success and his advocacy for the important role Langston University plays in Oklahoma and the nation. We wish Dr. Smith and his family only the best in his retirement.”

President Smith will work with the Board of Regents on a transition plan, including the launch of a national search for the next president of Langston University.

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