Geoffrey A. Smith obituary

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Headshot: Geoffrey A. Smith.

Geoffrey A. Smith

Geoffrey A. Smith, a former dean of the Division of Continuing Education at Western Michigan University, died March 1. He was 84.

Smith, of Englewood, Florida, joined the WMU staff in February 1978 as associate dean of continuing education and was promoted to dean in 1988. The unit is now named Extended University Programs.

Smith retired in March 1993 after 15 years of service to the University, but soon after was hired as a professor emeritus of continuing education. Smith left WMU the second time after two years of employment as director of the Dissemination Project for the CREATE team in the Evaluation Center.

Long-lasting impact

Smith was responsible for the off-campus credit courses and degree programs offered through WMU's six regional locations and also oversaw the Office of Adult Learning Services as well as the Office of Self-Instructional Programs.

Under his leadership, WMU's continuing education unit expanded tremendously and at the time, constituted the second largest off-campus education program in Michigan.

A major focus of his activities as dean and associate dean was introducing new courses and programs, many of them on evenings and weekends, to accommodate the growing number of nontraditional-age students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Smith also was an early adopter of technology. WMU was the first university in the state to transmit a live course by satellite to off-campus locations, and it went on to provide satellite broadcast services to schools and companies. In addition, he worked to have the University join the Michigan Information Technology Network, and when it did, WMU became that satellite television network's only supplier of an MBA degree.

In addition, Smith launched an award-winning program giving inmates of the Michigan Department of Corrections a chance to pursue a college degree and debuted a new WMU-Grand Rapids regional location on Beltline Avenue, which consolidated the University's classes and other services in that West Michigan city.

Veteran educator

Raised in Leeds, England, Smith served as a military translator in the British Intelligence Corp from 1951 to 1953. He began his career in education as a school teacher in England and a school teacher and principal in Canada.

He went on to spend the next 35 years providing service to adult learners. Before coming to WMU, Smith was director of extension at Laurentain University in Sudbury, Ontario, from 1966 to 1968; director of the University of Michigan's Extension and Graduate Study Center in Grand Rapids from 1968 to 1973; and director of continuing education at Grand Valley State College from 1973 to 1978.

Smith was active in various professional associations and received the Distinguished Service Key in 1993 from the National University Continuing Education Association.

In addition, he was a longtime member of the Michigan Association for Adult and Continuing Education and served as its president from 1981 to 1983. He received the MAACE President's Citation Award, the organization's highest award, for his many contributions.

Smith served in several board positions for the Michigan Coordinating Council for Continuing Higher Education, including as chair in 1978-79 and 1990-91; chaired the University Consortium Center Board of Directors in Grand Rapids for two years; and was a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and a specialist degree from the University of Michigan, where he also completed all but his dissertation for a doctoral degree.


A private celebration of his life has taken place in Englewood, Florida, where he lived in retirement.


The family obituary and message book are available at