Middle Tennessee State University has hired Monica Smith as assistant to the president for community engagement and inclusion.
MTSU’s Board of Trustees approved President Sidney A. McPhee’s recommendation to appoint Smith at the board’s April 5 quarterly meeting, with Smith beginning her role the following day.
Smith will be responsible for developing and supporting relationships with a broad range of community and civic organizations, including those in arts, culture and history, religious organizations and community support; and integrating best practices and university resources across the MTSU campus to promote a culture of inclusion.
“I was attracted to this position because, like my career, it combines community engagement and inclusion work,” said Smith, who was selected from among three finalists following a nationwide search. “That combination is not often seen in higher education, so I was excited about the possibility of working with the visionary leadership that created it.”
Before coming to MTSU, Smith served as founder and president of a Nashville consulting firm focused on diversity and community engagement and also served in lead administrative roles related to those areas at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and Honda of America Manufacturing in Maryville, Ohio.
McPhee said a key responsibility for the position, which had been vacant the past several years, will be to better coordinate and connect the myriad programs and resources throughout the campus community already dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
“This is a very critical position as we continue to move forward in bringing the community closer to the university and fostering deeper engagement both inside and outside our campus,” McPhee said. “I’m confident that Dr. Smith’s extensive background in these areas will allow her to forge the external and internal partnerships and relationships to move this university forward in a positive and impactful manner.”
Smith earned her Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wright State University.
“To me, community engagement and inclusion are important for MTSU and higher education, in general, because learning and liberty are inseparable,” Smith said. “Learning and liberty, for all people, is what community engagement and inclusion are about. By sharing knowledge and resources in mutually beneficial and equitable ways, the quality of our lives, individually and collectively, can improve.”
Smith plans to spend the next few months getting to know the campus community and assessing where her energies can be most effective.
“My initial plan is a listening tour. I want to hear from as many people as possible to learn about our community engagement and inclusion efforts,” she said. “That information will help us assess where our gaps and opportunities are, which will help us develop an institutional plan to improve campus and community life in alignment with MTSU goals.”
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)
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