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Thomas S. Smith Presidential Papers

Identifier: LU-RG03-010
This collection is composed of the papers of Thomas S. Smith, President of Lawrence University from 1969 to 1979. The collection primarily documents Smith's presidency from his selection through his departure. Materials include articles and biographical information, photographs, calendars, correspondence sent and received, documentation of his installation, and his speeches and writings.


  • 1969-2010
  • 1969-1979


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Lawrence University does not hold the copyright for all materials in this collection. Uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) require the researcher to secure permission from the copyright holder.


7.20 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Biographical or Historical Information

Thomas S. Smith was born February 8, 1921 in Hubbard, Ohio. He attended Kenyon College on a full tuition scholarship and graduated magna cum laude in 1947, earning a bachelor of arts degree in physics. He earned a Ph.D. in physics at Ohio State University in 1952. Later that same year, Smith began his academic career as an assistant professor of physics at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In 1961, he was appointed an assistant to the president of Ohio University. From 1962 to 1967, he served as vice president for academic affairs and was named provost in 1967. Smith assumed the president’s office at Lawrence on July 1, 1969. He presided over the college until his retirement on August 31, 1979. He led the college during one of the more difficult periods in its recent history. Student unrest over Vietnam and civil rights activism, as well as pressure from the student body for more of a voice in matters of academic and student life required delicate but decisive leadership. When Smith arrived on campus in 1969, his first faculty meeting was disrupted by students protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. During the 1970s, the college, along with American higher education in general, faced an extended period of fiscal austerity, necessitating difficult decisions and the retrenchment of faculty, staff, and administration. Among the milestones of his presidency were the completion of a major capital campaign; the opening of the Seeley G. Mudd Library in 1976; the strengthening of the university endowment; an extensive administrative reorganization involving academic affairs, admissions, development and student life; improvements in the curriculum and the renovations of Sage and Ormsby Halls. In 1972, President Richard Nixon appointed Smith to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science, the selection committee for the prestigious awards for distinguished contributions in physical, biological, mathematics, or engineering sciences. The following year, Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey appointed Smith chairman of the newly created State Ethics Board, a position he still held when he left Lawrence. Smith also served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and Independent College Funds of America, Inc. After leaving Lawrence, Smith served as executive director of the Lakeshore Consortium in Support of the Arts, an organization promoting increased awareness of, participation in, and contributions to an enhanced environment for arts activities in the Fox River Valley. He maintained a commitment to liberal education in retirement remaining active with the Waupaca-based Winchester Academy, encouraging it to foster its historic focus on the liberal arts and sciences and music. Smith passed away on May 12, 2004. [Adapted from Lawrence University news article by Rick Peterson, May 13, 2004.]

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged alphabetically by format.

Method of Acquisition

Collection transferred to the University Archives prior to July 2005.

Processing Information

Processed by Kim Knuppel, 2014. Finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2014.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753