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Smith named UNA provost, executive VP for Academic Affairs

FLORENCE – Dr. Brien Smith has been named the provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of North Alabama, school officials announced. The  special assistant to the president at Youngstown (Ohio) State, Smith is expected to begin around June 1. 

Smith replaces Dr. Ross Alexander, who left last July. Dr. Katie Kinney, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at UNA, has been serving in the interim.

“Dr. Smith brings a wealth of experience across the academic spectrum that promises to serve UNA and our students and academic programs very well,” said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. “The search committee tasked with filling this role has provided excellent guidance throughout the process, and we look forward to welcoming Dr. Smith to campus soon.” 

Smith completed his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees at Auburn University. He has served as a professor, department chair, assistant dean, dean, and provost as part of his academic trajectory to his current appointment at UNA. In addition to his time at Youngstown  State University, Smith has also served in academic leadership at Indiana State and Ball State. 

“What attracted me to UNA is quite a list, actually,” he said. “First of all, UNA has its roots as a normal school. I have served as faculty and in administration at two institutions that began as state normal schools, so I knew UNA’s DNA is deeply rooted in a commitment to excellence in teaching and student learning.

“Also, while many institutions promote their student-centric culture, it is clear to me that UNA actually delivers on that promise. Finally, I was looking for a place that has a strong sense of family, and, at UNA, you feel that the moment you step foot on campus.” 

Minnette Ellis, UNA’s Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Students, led the nationwide search with a team of faculty and staff. 

“The search process for UNA’s next provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs was guided by the Search Advisory Committee and an outstanding consultant in Mr. Dan Kenney,” she said. “The committee members understood how paramount a methodical and  structured process was in helping identify candidates for this important leadership position. Engaging with stakeholders across campus including faculty, staff, students, Board of Trustee members ensured we were able to identify candidates who embodied UNA’s values and vision for excellence.

“As the chair of this process, I would like to thank the members of the Search Advisory Committee for their tireless work within this process as well as the campus community for their invaluable feedback and participation.” 

Smith and his wife, Sherri, have four grown children. In his spare time, Smith enjoys art, photography, and drumming. 

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