The common themes that emerge regarding Dr. Alan Smith’s leadership are his vision, humility, the way he treats others with dignity, respect, and compassion, and how much he cares about the success and growth of others. Other remarkable qualities are Dr. Smith’s attention to detail, inclusion, openness, honesty, and transparency in decision making and his capacity to bring others together around a common purpose. These attributes and many more make Dr. Smith an excellent fit for the Simmons Chivukula Award for Academic Leadership.
Dr. Smith is the Chairperson for the Department of Kinesiology at Michigan State. In the department, he leads a significant undergraduate (≈1300) and graduate student enrollment (≈100), 18 tenure-stream and 4 fixed-term faculty, 4 support staff, and a large number of instructional staff composed of graduate teaching assistants and part-time instructors. This department represents a very diverse and highly complex unit.
Steadfast and even-handed in his support of department faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Smith demonstrates his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by fostering an inclusive and equitable environment in student recruitment, faculty hiring, committee assignments, and workloads. Regularly consulting with faculty to assess and appreciate their needs, as well as the demands placed on them, Dr. Smith takes these factors into account when he allocates tasks and does so with the highest level of transparency. He never hesitates to seek counsel on various issues, an indicator of continuous learning and improvement.
Within the realm of empowerment, success, and development of others, Dr. Smith expanded faculty and student research productivity in the Kinesiology department. He achieved this by promoting and leading a culture of 100% faculty participation in submitting external grants. This led to increased resources for faculty research and a corresponding increase in research productivity.
Overall, Dr. Smith exceeds the criteria for the Simmons Chivukula Award for Academic Leadership. He is an inspiring advocate for the Kinesiology department within the College of Education, across the MSU community, and the greater field of Kinesiology. Dr. Smith is an exceptional leader with great vision, leading by example and inspiring others to succeed.