Hall of Fame Member Biographies

Joan K. Smith

Mentoring, seeking student opinion, creating forums for interaction, and producing important scholarship only partly describes the career of Joan K. Smith.  Earning her B.A. from the University of Illinois, she then received her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in History, Philosophy and Comparative Education.  Her academic career began as an instructor at a Des Moines area community college in 1971, but by 1981 she commenced a career at Loyola University in Chicago where she served for fourteen years.  She obtained the rank of Professor of Education and moved into administration becoming Associate Dean then Acting Dean for the Graduate School, and later the Acting Director of the Doyle Center.  Her scholarly output and administrative abilities caught the eye of a hiring committee at the University of Oklahoma, and in 1995 she was selected to be the Dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education from which she retired in 2013.  Under her deanship the physical facilities were renovated and expanded, and the College was named after an outstanding alumna and lifelong advocate for education, Jeannine Rainbolt.  Over the years, she has authored or co-authored 4 books, 11 book chapters, and 60 journal articles.  As Dean of the College of Education at OU, she was known for creating panels to elicit advice from alumni, undergraduates, and graduate students about the direction of teacher education.  As President of the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions, she led the group into collaborative efforts to improve education; her leadership was instrumental into making this organization a powerful force in teacher education.  Her style of administration has had a profound impact on teaching colleges throughout the country; she actively mentored faculty members in administrative methods with the result that many of her associate deans have now moved into the position of dean and director of nationally recognized research centers: Jon Pedersen at the University of Nebraska; Jayne Fleener at North Carolina State University, May John O’Hair at the University of Kentucky, and Pamela Fry, now the senior associate Provost at Oklahoma State University—and the list continues.  She has actively promoted mechanisms of faculty governance, and to ease the financial strain on undergraduates, she has managed to increase scholarships—from 30 awards amounting to $34,000 in 2000 to 91 awards amounting to $152,000 in 2010.   At OU, her activities have earned the school’s Outstanding Professor Award in 1999 and the Outstanding Administrator Award in 2007.  For her stellar performance as Dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma, the OHEHS is proud to induct Joan K. Smith into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.