Former FMU president dies

Dr. Albert E. Smith remembered for leadership in South Florida

Miami Times staff report | 11/21/2013, 9 a.m.
South Florida mourns the recent death of one of its greatest educators and community leaders, Dr. Albert E. Smith. Smith, ...
Dr. Albert E. Smith

South Florida mourns the recent death of one of its greatest educators and community leaders, Dr. Albert E. Smith. Smith, 81, born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Oct. 24, 1932, came to Miami in the spring of 1993, following his tenure at South Carolina State University, when he was asked to serve as the tenth president of Florida Memorial College (now known as Florida Memorial University). He served in that capacity until he retired in June 2006 and was President


Dr. Albert E. Smith

Emeritus. During his 13-year tenure as president of Florida Memorial and through his visionary efforts, the college was elevated to University status, over $83 million in grant funds were awarded, increased from 1,300 to over 2,200, and the “Rising to New Heights” $35 million Capital Campaign was completed. These funds were generated and used for the campus beautification program, renovations and new building construction.

Smith was known to claim Chicago, where he attended elementary school and high school, as his home. Al, as he was fondly called, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina; a Master of Science degree from George Williams College, Chicago; and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

His early professional career included: a brief stint as a minor league baseball player with the Saint Louis Cardinals; a commissioned officer and company commander in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps; a youth gangs worker and program secretary with the Y.M.C.A. of Metropolitan Chicago; and varsity baseball coach and Student Union director at Knoxville College. He served at his alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University, in several capacities including: director of athletics and the Student Union; vice chancellor for Development and University Relations; professor of education; and executive director of the University’s Foundation. He was also the sixth president of South Carolina State University.

Dr. Smith’s professional affiliations and publications were numerous including: member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and New Mount Olive Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sadie Burris Smith; one brother, Dr. Calvert H. Smith (Carrie); one special sister, Evelyn Jude (Robert); two daughters: Robyne Wilkerson and Angela Luster (James); a son Albert Clayton (Audrey); four grandchildren: Albert Clayton II, Courtney Smith Hayes (James), Carrington Luster and Trevor Luster; six great-grandchildren; three sisters-in-law: Evetta Burris Barrett, Legatha Burris and Mable Burris; and two brothers-in-law: Ray E. Burris (Carolyn) and Rev. Willie Gaskin.