Longtime UHV leader to give keynote address at fall commencement

KATY – Don Smith, provost emeritus at the University of Houston-Victoria, will deliver the keynote address during the university’s Dec. 10 fall commencement ceremony.

Commencement will begin at 11 a.m. at the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy.

Vic Morgan

During the last three decades, Smith has served as UHV’s dean for academic affairs, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and interim president four times. Most recently, Smith filled in from May1 to Aug. 26 as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs until David Cockrum stepped into the position.

“Time and time again, Dr. Smith has brought excellent leadership, integrity and wisdom to this institution,” UHV President Vic Morgan said. “He will be a fitting commencement speaker because it was his work that brought about many of the programs and partnerships our graduates enjoyed during their time here. I’m sure he will have some wise parting guidance to share on this special day.”

Smith said since multiple generations of families will be in the audience at commencement, he plans to discuss what one generation leaves to another. Similarly, he will talk about what graduating students can leave to future generations.

He said his favorite aspect about commencement is seeing the family and friends of the graduating students come together to share the occasion and pride in the graduates’ accomplishment.

“I’ve been to many commencement ceremonies, but every one of them is unique because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event for those students walking across the stage,” Smith said.

Don Smith

Smith came to Victoria in 1987 when UHV had 22 faculty members and a little more than 1,000 students. He was hired as dean for academic affairs and remained in that post until 1993, when he became vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculties at the State University of West Georgia. He returned to UHV in 1995 and served as provost and vice president for academic affairs until his retirement in 2006.

As provost, he was involved in the planning for UHV’s downward expansion, and helped plan off-campus and online course offerings. Much of his academic publishing and presentation work dealt with interinstitutional collaboration in the delivery of academic programs. He helped develop partnerships with several community colleges and strengthened UHV’s relationship with the UH System.

“No single institution in the UH System can serve the educational needs of all the people in the Houston area,” Smith said. “Across the four universities, we can serve the broad spectrum of higher education needs. I think there’s a vital educational need in the Katy area, and UHV is well positioned to serve with its history and identity as an accessible and affordable institution.”

Smith was called out of retirement several times to serve in interim leadership capacities. He was interim president in 2010-2011, the year UHV first offered freshman and sophomore classes. After a new president was hired, he stayed on in fall 2011 as interim provost.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts from Berea College in Kentucky, a master’s degree from Ohio University, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan, all in English. Prior to arriving at UHV, he taught at Ohio University, the University of Maryland University College, the University of Wisconsin and Frostburg State University in Maryland.

UHV holds graduation ceremonies in two different locations each year. Spring commencement is in Victoria, while the fall ceremony is held in Katy to better accommodate UHV students who take classes at the UHV Katy Campus. Summer and fall graduates have the option of attending the commencement ceremony in Katy or waiting until the May graduation in Victoria.

For more information about commencement, contact UHV special events coordinator Nancy Moffett at 361-570-4351 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro