FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky State University’s fourteenth and first female president, Mary L. Smith, died Saturday, Nov. 28 at the age of 84.
KSU President M. Christopher Brown II said losing Smith will profoundly impact the Thorobred family.
“There are no words to express the enormity of losing a chain breaker, like President Smith,” Brown said. “Mary was more than just a pioneer — she was an incredible person. She was admired and known to many as a thoughtful, thorough and well-organized administrator and educator. Mary devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service.”
The Mary L. Smith Clock Tower was recently constructed in her honor on the campus of KSU last spring. The clock tower is a beacon to students on campus, sitting outside the Paul G. Blazer Library. A trailblazer and a longtime advocate for access to education, Smith was not only KSU’s first female president but also the first African-American female president in Kentucky. She served as president from 1991 to 1998. Before becoming president, she was special assistant to the president and professor of education at Kentucky State.
While at KSU, two accredited master’s programs were added: public administration and aquaculture. Smith oversaw the establishment of the Center for Diversity and the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans (CESKAA).
Arrangements are pending.