Provost Howard Smith announces plans to return to classroom 

Howard Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Pittsburg State University, has decided to return to his former faculty role as a professor of leadership studies in the College of Education. 

He’ll step away from the provost position in January 2023, at which time he will take an administrative sabbatical for the spring semester to prepare for his return to teaching in August 2023. 

“This decision comes after much thought and consideration,” he said in announcing the decision to the campus on Thursday. “While it has been my privilege to serve you as provost, I believe that the timing is right for a transition.” 

He thanked faculty and staff for all that the university has accomplished recently, including navigating enrollment challenges, funding cuts, and a global pandemic, which required a pivot to online learning and mitigation strategies. Smith played an instrumental role leading the university’s critical response task force during that time. 

“As a result of all your efforts, we have overcome many challenges in the last few years — with some completed and some still ongoing,” he said in his message to the campus. “You have risen to deliver quality services and instruction during difficult times, and PSU is better for your work." 

President Steve Scott, who is retiring in a few weeks, praised Smith’s leadership and dedication to the university, where he has worked since 1996. 

"I am fortunate to call Howard not only a colleague for many years, but also a friend," said Scott. "The things we've achieved together at Pitt State are some of my proudest moments. His impact can be seen across our campus and community." 

Scott noted that at his core, Smith is an educator. 

"In every role he's had, whether at Pitt State or elsewhere, he's taken great care to promote understanding and inclusiveness among his team and the rest of the organization. Pitt State has benefited greatly from his experience and generosity of spirit, and so will his future students." 

With a bachelor’s in education from PSU, a master’s in education from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate in educational administration from Kansas State University, Smith rose through the ranks at PSU, having started as a faculty member in the College of Education. 

As provost, he has had oversight and leadership for the units of Admission, Accommodations, Honors College, International Programs and Services, Intensive English Program, Student Diversity Programs, Student Financial Assistance, Student Success Programs, and Office of the Registrar. He also continued to oversee Enrollment Management, a position he had held prior to becoming provost. 

Past positions at PSU include associate professor and professor of Leadership Studies, interim chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, chair of Special Services & Leadership Studies, executive director of the PSU-Kansas City Metro Outreach Center, assistant to the president and legislative liaison, dean of the College of Education and associate vice president of Enrollment Management. 

Smith also has served as the interim superintendent of Pittsburg Community Schools, chair and associate professor at Emporia State University, superintendent of schools in Bentonville, Arkansas, an administrator in the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas, a school principal in Coffeyville, Kansas, and a teacher at Shawnee Mission schools.