Former Andrews University president Joseph Grady Smoot passed away in Pittsburgh, Kansas, United States, on Jan. 5. He was 85. [Photo: Andrews University News]

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Former Andrews University President Joseph Grady Smoot Dies at 85

He served from 1968-1983; president from 1976-1983

Joseph Grady Smoot, 85, of Pittsburg, Kansas, United States, died Friday, Jan. 5 at Via Christi Village, where he had resided since January 2015. Smoot’s tenure as president of Andrews University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, from 1976 to 1983, saw many significant accomplishments.

All four of his grandchildren, Hannah, Haley, Eric and Heidi Smoot, are current Andrews University students and their mother, Shari Nash Smoot, serves as the executive assistant to David Faehner, vice president of University Advancement. His son, Andrew Christopher Smoot of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, served in the development office at Andrews University from May 2000 to July 2002, when the family went as missionaries to Kenya.

Memorial services will be held Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. in the Timmons Chapel at Pittsburg State University, Kansas, with Carlos Ancheta of the Fox Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church of Neenah, Wisconsin officiating. A second memorial service will take place at the Fox Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church (details pending.)

An Educator, Scholar, and Administrator

Joseph Grady Smoot was born May 7, 1932, in Winter Haven, Florida to Robert Malcolm Smoot and Vera Eaton Smoot McNutt. Smoot received a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Missionary College in Collegedale, Tennessee in 1955, and Master of Arts and Ph.D. in history in 1961 from the University of Kentucky.

He married Florence Rozell in 1955. After becoming a widower, he married Irma Jean Smoot in 1959.

Smoot served as academic dean at Columbia Union College and dean of graduate studies at Andrews University, where he also became vice president for academic affairs and later president. He held the academic rank of professor of history at Andrews from 1968 to 1983. He led Andrews to professional accreditation in several fields of knowledge, created the first strategic master plan, launched the first comprehensive capital campaign, and built numerous buildings.

Smoot instituted doctoral programs of study, developed a world system of affiliated higher education, and led the university to full accreditation of the Doctor of Philosophy. He organized two new schools in the university—business and education—and established the Department of Architecture. He developed the Andrews University Press as a scholarly publisher and created the Institute for Prevention of Addictions. He was the leading founder of the University of Eastern Africa in Kenya.

While at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Kansas, he was the vice president of Development and Public Affairs. During that time, he organized the PSU Foundation, established the public radio station KRPS, founded the university magazine, and created a substantial endowment fund for university operations. He brought one of America’s finest concert organs to the campus and provided funding for numerous building and renovation projects. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the university campus was a special project to him. After retirement, he returned as assistant to the president of Pittsburg State University and vice president emeritus.

In 1994, he became a director of Gold Bank Pittsburg and served for nine years in that capacity. In 1999, the Pittsburg City Commission appointed him to a four-year term to the Pittsburg Public Library Board of Trustees where he became a founder of the PPL Foundation in 2000 and its president in 2004. The Pittsburg City Commission appointed him to a second four-year term to the Board of Trustees in 2003. In 2001, he became a founder of the Pittsburg Area Community Foundation and served on its Board of Trustees.

Smoot was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary society for history. Widely published as a historian, he has nearly 700 publications. As an educator, he became a national authority on the accreditation of higher education. He was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. Widely traveled, he visited over 100 countries across several continents.

Survivors include his son, Andrew Christopher Smoot of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; brother Wayne McNutt of Winter Park, Florida; and four grandchildren. Hannah, Haley, Eric and Heidi Smoot of Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Smoot was preceded in death by his first wife, Florence, in 1957, and second wife, Irma Jean, in 1999; grandson Christopher Nash Smoot, one brother, two sisters and one half-brother.


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