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Meet Dr. Norman R. Smith, Suffolk’s Interim President

When it was announced Wednesday that Suffolk’s ninth President, James McCarthy would be abruptly leaving to pursue “consulting and business opportunities,” Dr. Norman R. Smith was named the interim President of Suffolk University.

For Eric Russo’s coverage on President McCarthy’s departure, click here 

Smith, 68, has had a long career tied to successful institutions. He is the president emeritus of Wagner College in New York, former assistant dean to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and currently a member of the Registry for Colleges and University Presidents, which requires at least 20 years of college leadership experience.

Smith, pictured outside of 73 Tremont. Photo courtesy of Allan Dines/Northstar Photography.

Smith, pictured outside of 73 Tremont. Photo courtesy of Allan Dines/Northstar Photography.

Upon word that McCarthy would be leaving Suffolk, Smith was put in contact with Suffolk’s Board of Trustees to quickly fill the position.

While many may know Smith through press releases, the man who served Wagner College for 14 years during times of fiscal inbalance, or the former president of American International University, some might not know who Smith actually is.

Smith, when reached by telephone on Tuesday told The Suffolk Voice a little about himself.

Smith said he grew up north of the border, in Toronto, Ontario. Like all kids growing up watching Harry Lumley, Terry Sawchuk, and Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Smith said he played hockey through high school.

After graduating, Smith said he worked multiple jobs to pay his way through college. He earned his BS and MBA from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Smith said he then went to Harvard University, where he earned his Doctor of Education.

In the 80s, Smith served as the Assistant Dean for the Harvard Graduate School of Education and later at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in the same capacity.

“Living in Boston during the 80s, I was part of the ‘Larry Bird Era.’ I loved the [Boston] Celtics,” said Smith. “I went to as many of the Celtics games as I could.”

Smith said he expects to be busy as president.

“I don’t get any spare time as a president. It’s meeting alumni, attending events, fundraisers…It’s a day job, a nighttime job. You’re always working.”

However, Smith said he does have one passion.

“Any time I can get to a college football game, I can,” he said. “I’m a Notre Dame fan.

“When I was at Wagner, they were big. I went to every event.” (Wagner, now NCAA Division I, won the Division III National Championship in 1987.)

Smith may be fan of sports, but according to the Staten Island Advance, he also strives to support programs for student athletes.

While at Wagner, a 2002 article written by Jack Minogue describes how Smith helped add six sports programs for women and a men’s lacrosse team. Per the article, he also helped coordinate the purchase of facilities for those teams.

Smith said that he’s looking forward to working with Suffolk University.

“I want to meet the people who made Suffolk successful, and what they’d like to see next.

“I’m happy to be part of what looks like a great school and at a great time. I hope I can make a contribution that takes it to the next level and I hope that I can get it there. I’ll try.”

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