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Vice President Smith Jackson honored for 24 years of service

Elon celebrated the distinguished career of its VP for Student Life and Dean of Students at a special dinner on May 15.   

Smith Jackson, vice president for student life and dean of students, was honored for his 24 years of service on May 15, 2017.

Elon Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Smith Jackson was praised for his lifelong dedication to students at a special dinner in his honor on May 15. Jackson joined Elon in 1994 and steps down from his role at the end of this academic year.

“Smith’s professional life has been all about celebrating students,” said President Leo M. Lambert in his remarks at the event. “Elon University would not be the place it is today without Smith Jackson. He has been one of the architects of the modern Elon.”

Lambert said Jackson has worked with two Elon provosts in building a student life program that is better integrated with academic programs than at any other university in the nation. He praised Jackson for his constant attention to student needs, for his cool head and wisdom in crises, and for his ability to be fair to students who have made mistakes.

“Tonight we celebrate that respect, that concern, the generosity, patience, kindness and love, all wrapped up in the person of Smith Jackson. And we thank him for his friendship and for his leadership, which will endure,” Lambert said. “Smith Jackson, you are both a great man and a good man. Thank you.”

Smith Jackson (center) was joined at the May 15 dinner by his family (from left), daughter Lauren, son Peter, wife Rene, and his brothers, Ed and Ted.

A member of President Lambert’s senior staff, Jackson has been responsible for leading 15 departments that provide student services and support student development. Jackson has been a champion for Elon’s living learning communities and the residential campus initiative; leadership, service learning and civic engagement; religious life and multifaith programs; diversity and inclusion; wellness and counseling services; student organizations and clubs; the Elon Honor Code; and many other student life initiatives. He has also been a highly visible leader on campus, communicating regularly about issues of safety and security and providing a calm and comforting voice in difficult times.

“Smith represents the administration, and his emails bring the administration to life for the students,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Steven House. “They know that Smith is there for them, and just like a parent, he can be sometimes strict, and sometimes light-hearted, but he is always instructive and, most certainly, always caring.”

Among the many awards Jackson has received are the Residence Life Golden Key Award, the Phillips-Perry Lifetime Service Award from the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity and the Black Student Union, the LGBT Alumni Community Enrichment Award, and the Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award from North Carolina Campus Compact. SGA created the Outstanding Student Mentor Award in his name and the Elon chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary bears his name.

In his response, Jackson said, “This has been work that I love – it has been my calling.” Jackson will remain involved with Elon in his retirement and says he looks forward to contributing to the university in new ways in the years ahead.

Jon Dooley, who joined Elon as assistant vice president and dean of campus life in January 2014, was named Jackson’s successor following a national search. He assumes his new role June 1.

Dan Anderson,
5/15/2017 9:45 PM