Elon community gathers to celebrate the life of late staff member Brent Smith

A gathering of friends in McKinnon Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 6, provided members of the university community an opportunity to pay tribute about Smith, assistant director of teaching and learning technologies, who passed away on Monday.

Members of the Elon University community gathered in McKinnon Hall on Wednesday to offer fond remembrances and to pay tribute to Brent Smith, assistant director of teaching and learning technologies, who passed away Monday following a brief illness.

Brent Smith, assistant director of teaching and learning technologies

There was also plenty of laughter, as colleagues and friends recounted Smith’s delight at a quick joke, a fine-tuned pun and of course, his love of the annual “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”

Smith joined Elon in April 2013 as a video integration manager, a role he held for three years before being promoted to assistant director of Teaching & Learning Technologies. His move into higher education followed 24 years in television, beginning as a production assistant with Guam Cable TV in Agana, Guam, and then spending two decades as production manager for KCBY-TV in Coos Bay, Oregon. In that role he worked as a specialist in all areas of video production, including the production of special programming and marketing messages.

In 2001, Smith joined Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as assistant director of electronic media productions and resources. While serving as assistant director of campus information services there in 2012, he would serve as a peer consultant in writing the description for Elon’s new video integration manager position. He later said it was only after he saw the job posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education that he realized the role at Elon offered a challenging opportunity at a great school. He applied and joined the Elon community the following year.

Rev. Kirstin Boswell, right, speaks at the dedication of a memorial bench in honor of Brent Smith outside Koenigsberger Learning Center on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2022.

At Elon, Smith emerged as a leader within the Teaching and Learning Technologies department, working to provide audio and visual support for events, managing live event video production and managing facilities in the School of Communications. In his role, Smith interacted with and built connections with people across Elon’s campus, lending his deep knowledge and expertise to capturing events large and small at the university.

During Commencement 2021 in May, Smith took time out of overseeing the streaming of the three separate commencement ceremonies to discuss all that goes into coordinating and producing such a complex event. The video of Smith discussing the work is available here.

Members of his team in Teaching & Learning Technologies shared how Smith worked behind the scenes to support their work, and how quick he was to express his pride in what they were able to accomplish. Smith worked frequently with students, and delighted in seeing them succeed, multiple people shared during the gathering. He was remembered as a diehard science fiction and “Star Trek” fan, a frequently whistler and singer during his walks around campus. He was a friend, a mentor, a member of the “wolf pack” and a person who was generous with his praise and support, friends recalled.

Smith’s office was located in Carole Grotnes Belk Library, a location he was proud of, often referring to himself as an “honorary librarian.” He was an avid reader and lifelong supporter of libraries. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in honor of Smith to support local libraries. For those who wish to make a donation to a library in the Elon area, gifts can be made to the Carol Grotnes Belk Library at Elon or the Alamance County Public Libraries.

On Tuesday, Feb. 1, dozens gathered outside the Koenigsberger Learning Center for the dedication of a bench in memory of Smith, with University Chaplain Kirstin Boswell offering remarks.

He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and daughter, Mallory. Messages of sympathy can be sent to Alamance Building 213E, 2575 Campus Box, Elon, N.C. 27244.