Dr. Will Smith joins COLFA to lead the creation of the new Center for Student Excellence

June 23, 2021

Dr. Will Smith joined the College of Liberal and Fine Arts in March and has quickly jumped into building the new Center for Student Excellence from the ground up. As assistant dean and the director of the center he is tasked with the center's creation and developing its programming. The center will be the hub for student experiential learning opportunities such as internships, travel abroad and in the U.S., as well as professional development.


Want to know more about Dr. Smith? Check out this Q&A:

Why did you want this new role here at UTSA?

My interest in this role stemmed from my aspiration to place students in the best position to be successful once they step outside of the walls of the university and my desire to better prepare them to excel in a society that is becoming more global every day. This position combined my passion of relationship building, student success, and international education with my duty of utilizing my education and experiences for equipping our students with the knowledge and skills needed to think critically, communicate openly, act creatively, and live ethically.

Previous Role at Purdue University:

I served as the Director of Global Engagement within the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. During my time at Purdue University, I developed high impact, innovative educational programming that prepared students and professionals for engagement, collaboration, and exchange with the world around them. I was responsible for partnerships with over 50 global clinics, 15 non-profit organizations, and 20 international university exchange partnerships for research collaborations, student exchange contracts, and all global career initiatives.

What is your philosophy on student success?

My philosophy on student success is founded on Mansilla and Gardner’s Global Consciousness Framework. I believe that a student is successful when they have a disposition to place their immediate experience in the broader matrix of developments that shape life worldwide, construct their identities as members of world societies, and orient their actions accordingly. By engaging our students from this framework, we are preparing them for purposeful careers and placing them in the best position to excel and make a positive impact in society as a whole.

Why is experiential and global learning important?

I believe that experiential and global learning are an essential component to developing the skills needed for engagement, collaboration, and exchange in a world full of complexity, uncertainty, and continual change. These experiences are key for empowering students to take ownership of their professional and personal development.   

What is the No. 1 thing students need to have or achieve before graduation?

I believe every student within COLFA needs to have knowledge on how to translate their education and experiences into meaningful and purposeful careers upon graduation.

What are your current research interests?

My current research interests are in global education, 20th century U.S. history and foreign policy, and student retention.

What are you most looking forward to with your move to San Antonio?

The FOOD! When we started telling family and friends we were moving to San Antonio, everyone we talked with raved about the food! I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I think San Antonio will change that. I have started compiling a list of the recommended places to go, so please email me some of your top spots when you have time! 

Is there anything else you’d like to add or touch upon? Tell us about you and your family.

In my free time, I enjoy relaxing with my wife and daughter (4 years old). We also have a new edition (baby boy), so he will officially be a Texan through and through. Before COVID-19, I would consider myself a pretty good basketball player but I might be better on video games than in real life these days. Although I’ll have to learn to be a Spurs fan (the Spurs spoiled the championship runs of some of my favorite teams in the 2000s), I am a big fan of “Coach Pop”. I am truly excited to be joining the COLFA family and looking forward to contributing to the success of our students.   

Degree Info:

Oakwood University- B.A. in History/ Minor in Spanish

Bowling Green State University – M.A. in History (Focus on International and Educational Exchange Policy)

Purdue University - Ph.D. in Education (Focus on Global Education and Curriculum Design) 

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