Meet Smith Jackson, one of the many great people who make Elon a special place.
By Shakori Fletcher ’16
For many Elon students and alumni, the name Smith Jackson is synonymous with campus email alerts.
Indeed, as vice president for student life and dean of students, Jackson has sent plenty of emails about inclement weather or security notices. And while his emails are legendary—they even inspired a 2010 YouTube video—he is most proud of the Student Life programs he helps create.
In his nearly 20 years at Elon, Jackson has been at the center of much of Elon’s growth and development. When he joined Elon in 1994, the college had just shifted its course structure from three to four credit hours, which accelerated Elon’s emphasis on experiential and engaged learning. Moseley Center was about to open and only two of the now seven residential neighborhoods existed. Under his direction, Elon developed living-learning communities and the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, among other initiatives.
“We keep our eye on the North Star—where we want to go—continuing to be ourselves but thinking of new and better ways to provide a student-centered environment and a strong community,” Jackson says, a task that at times can be monumental for a man who oversees 15 different departments—from campus recreation and Greek life to residence life and the university chaplain.
“I have a lot of meetings on a daily basis,” Jackson says. “That’s probably one of my biggest challenges—balancing all the meetings with spending time with students, parents, staff and faculty, and moving the university forward.”
While it has not always been easy, the end result makes it all worthwhile. “Elon is a place that is so intentional about providing an environment where people can discover who they are … to go out into the world and live lives that are both satisfying and meaningful,” Jackson says. “If you can be a part of that, that’s a worthy vocation.”
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