Houston, TX

Rice's professor and diversity, equity, inclusion advocate, retires after 25 years

Marisol Gallagher

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HOUSTON, TX - On August 13 at Rice's Cohen House, friends, family, and colleagues attended a farewell event for Roland Smith who has been pursuing his career as associate provost and adjunct professor of sociology at Rice University for 25 years.

Throughout his career, Smith made a great impact on the university, its faculty, staff, and students' life. John Hutchinson, professor of chemistry and associate co-chair for graduate studies appreciated Roland as an incredible gift for them.

As Roland's colleague and friend, Hutchinson acknowledged that Roland is a figure who elevates others who will remind them about how far they've come and how far they have to keep striving to achieve social justice.

Adria Baker, associate vice provost for international education, described Smith as someone who would give a hand to anyone in need. Baker reminisced the time when Roland is supportive of Baker's office and kindly invited everyone to take part in the university community.

Smith was an associate professor of sociology for two decades at the University of Notre Dame as well as the founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity and the executive assistant to the president. Then 25 years ago, Smith joined Rice.

During his career at the university, Smith was involved in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Rice Council on Diversity and Inclusion as a chairman, taught ethnographic research methods, the Graduate Council and Institutional Review Board, and was the principal investigator and coordinator for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.

Thanks to the program, Rice students are allowed to pursue graduate studies especially to support underrepresented minority students to seek higher education.

So far, there are 39 Rice alumni who have earned doctorates with 20 more students to do so.

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