Dr. Norman R. Smith assumed the Presidency of Suffolk University at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year, marking his 30th year homecoming to Boston higher education. For most of the decade from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s, Dr. Smith was at Harvard University, first as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education and then as part of the inaugural management team of the newly-opened John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was also a fellow of the Harvard Philosophy of Education Research Center and he earned his doctorate from Harvard.
Over the past three decades since leaving Harvard, and returning to head Suffolk University, he has served as President or Chancellor of four colleges and universities including two overseas. He is President Emeritus of Wagner College in New York City, where he remains the longest serving president in the College’s history and is credited with elevating the College to top tier rankings, greatly increasing enrollments and academic stature and overseeing the best fundraising outcomes in the College’s history. On the year of his departure after over 14 years, TIME magazine cited Wagner as a College of the Year.
Smith went on to be President of Richmond The American International University in London, overseeing two campuses in London and satellite campuses in Rome and Florence. Six years later, he was called upon to build what was to be the largest American International University in the world, west of Alexandria on the Egyptian Mediterranean. That project was closed down by the Muslim Brotherhood following the Arab Spring revolution. Smith returned to the US and joined the Registry for College & University Presidents, a venerable assembly of veteran college presidents who provide interim leadership to colleges and universities. He then was assigned to be President of Dowling College, the former William Vanderbilt estate on the south shore of Long Island where he oversaw its reaccreditation year before being reassigned to Suffolk University.
Earlier in his career, before Harvard, Smith held leadership positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia University and Moore College of Art & Design.
He has honorary degrees from Philadelphia University, Wagner College and Richmond University. He has been awarded the New York University President’s Medal in recognition of higher education leadership achievements. Drexel University inducted him to their inaugural Hall of Fame, The Drexel 100. Smith has served on many boards including the executive committees of the New York Council of Independent Colleges, the NCAA Northeast Conference President’s Council and the Association of American International Colleges and Universities.
His publications include Selecting the Right College and TOP TIER, which was cited by the Council of Independent Colleges as a Book of Note for college presidents and academic leaders. His most recent book, WHAT COLLEGE TRUSTEES NEED TO KNOW, was co-authored with George Matthews, Chairman Emeritus of Northeastern University, and Bryan Carlson, President of the Registry for College and University Presidents.