By Timothy Patterson
Dr. Claibourne D. Smith, Ph.D., the chairman of DSU’s Board of Trustees, has announced that he is stepping down from his position.
He has been head of the DSU governance body since 1992. Immediately replacing him is David Turner, by a unanimous vote from the trustee board members. Although Dr. Smith has stepped down as chairman, he said he will continue to serve on the board as an active member until his term expires in 2016.
Dr. Smith was first appointed in the 1987-88 academic year to finish the term of Arthur Richardson, the previous chairman. He was officially elected head in 1993, succeeding then president Dr. William Dix. Smith felt that a good leader of any organization should plan for his successor. “Several years ago during a meeting of the board, I told them that I can’t be chair forever,” Dr. Smith said.
“I said that we have to have someone ready to serve in that role, after me.” With that said, he appointed Mr. David Turner to be the new chairman. Turner was previously the vice chair of the Development and Investments Committee, a position he held since 2010. “I wanted to see how he would do in those leadership positions and he did well,” Dr. Smith related. “He is a natural to take on the position as chair. As a dedicated alumnus, he will take us places we have never been before.” Turner felt that Dr. Smith set a good tone on the board as the chairman, through his dedication and hard work. “Dr. Smith’s mentorship has been very valuable to me,” Turner said. “It is not easy to share the leadership of an organization, but he has done so openly and willingly.”
In honor of Dr. Smith’s 25 years of service on the board, as well as his 22 years as chairman, the board members unanimously voted that the Administration Building (where the meeting took place) would be renamed the Claibourne D. Smith Administration Building. The renaming of the building took Dr. Smith by surprise. “I am deeply honored for this to be bestowed upon me,” Dr. Smith shared. “I could not have done any of this by myself. This has been a great board that has truly been engaged in the business of this University.”
In 2008, DSU President Allen L. Sessoms resigned from his office, and Dr. Smith was appointed by the board to serve as a stand-in President until a new President was hired. He served as stand-in University President for 16 months until Dr. Harry L. Williams, the current President, was hired in 2010, and so resumed his chairman duties. “Serving as acting president made me a better board chair,” he said.