A national search will begin this fall for the next leader of Elon’s largest academic division.
Gabie Smith, who has led Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences for nearly a decade, will conclude her service as dean at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year and return to the classroom as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology.
“Gabie Smith’s tenure as dean has been a period of achievement and historic growth for the academic programs of Elon College,” said Provost Rebecca Kohn. “She has provided wise and steady administrative leadership, always with a primary focus on student well-being and success. She has been the driving force behind the establishment of our new engineering programs, as well as the growth of programs in other disciplines. Dr. Smith is admired by her colleagues and we are deeply grateful for her exceptional service to our community.”
Kohn will appoint a search committee, assisted by a search consultant, to conduct a national search for the next dean. The committee will be co-chaired by Kenn Gaither, dean of the School of Communications, and Rissa Trachman, professor of anthropology. The goal is to select finalists by November, with the new dean beginning work by June 2024.
The return to teaching and scholarship will allow Smith, renowned for her commitment to mentorship and experiential teaching, to reengage with her academic discipline while contributing to administrative projects.
“Over the past decade, I have approached my role as dean as a servant leader, emphasizing the benefits of a creative culture that helps students, faculty and staff to flourish in the pursuit of their own careers and scholarly pursuits,” Smith said. “Looking ahead, I’m excited about further growing partnerships related to student success and belonging that enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in our community.”
Among other partnerships, Smith will work with the leadership team of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative to deepen the sense of belonging and connection among students who have been underrepresented in STEM disciplines.
Smith joined the Elon faculty in 2000 and quickly developed a reputation for student-centered mentoring and scholarly accomplishments. She coordinated the Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies program, chaired the Department of Psychology and served as associate dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. She was named interim dean in January 2014 and was appointed permanent dean in December 2015.
Highlights of the College’s accomplishments during Smith’s tenure include:
- Creation and accreditation of the Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree program.
- Development of more than a dozen academic major and minor programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Data Analytics major and the Game Design and Food Studies minors.
- Establishment of the Innovation Quad to expand opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and STEM research.
- Enhancement of Fellows and Scholars programs within the College — including the Elon College Fellows, Engineering Fellows, Data Analytics Scholars, Public Health Scholars and Vocal Scholars — and strengthening support for students pursuing careers in healthcare and legal professions.
- Greater equity in student access to rich experiential learning through internships, undergraduate research and mentoring networks.
As dean, Smith has advanced numerous institutional and academic initiatives, including creation of the Boldly Elon strategic plan. Since 2019, Smith has also served as a representative for NC ACE Women’s Network, a higher education nonprofit connected to the American Council on Education’s leadership development programs.
Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, includes 21 academic departments and several interdisciplinary programs across three branches: the Arts and Humanities; Natural, Mathematical and Computer Sciences; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Two-thirds of Elon students graduate with majors or minors offered by the College and its more than 300 full-time faculty.
Smith said she is proud to have worked with faculty to establish exciting new majors, programs, and interdisciplinary minors, and to have played a role in the promotion and tenure of hundreds of colleagues.
“Providing support for the rich and varied disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences, in the context of meeting student needs, has remained the top priority in all of my decision-making,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to contribute toward the educational mission of Elon University well into the future.”