Originally published in The Sylva Herald on June 25, 2020.
BaShaun Smith has served as Western Carolina University’s interim associate vice chancellor and dean of students since June 2019 but permanently accepted the position as of May 1.
“I decided to stay at WCU because of the amazing students we have here,” Smith said. “I would not be afforded this opportunity without the support of our students.”
Smith, a Cleveland, Ohio native, attended Bowling Green State University, graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in political science. He furthered his education at the University of Dayton and achieved a master’s degree in college student personnel in 2012.
Smith accepted his first position at WCU in June 2016 as the associate director of residence life.
Even after a national search was established, it was known Smith was the right choice, said Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs.
“He has demonstrated expertise in the areas of student programming, student conduct, residence hall supervision, working with underrepresented students, fraternity and sorority life, and he has experience with Title IX investigations,” Miller said.
Smith is entering this position during a challenging time as students are dealing with matters such as the death of George Floyd and anticipates having to deal with those issues when students return in August. “I would handle issues concerning race on campus by working with students on knowing their rights and responsibilities as a WCU student,” Smith said. “This will not be an easy task, and we will need every WCU student, staff and faculty to remember our values.”
Smith’s various other goals for WCU include:
• Adjusting current practices due to COVID-19.
• Working with campus partners to ensure students and parents know that the fall 2020 semester will be different.
• Establishing consistency within the Greek Student and Engagement Department.
• Staying current with the ever-changing needs of college students.
In May, Smith completed his doctorate in educational leadership at WCU and strives to become a college president or chancellor before the age of 50. As for now, he continues to do his best to serve WCU students.
“I have learned something every semester since 2016 from our students,” Smith said. “WCU students have a lot to give, and we just need to listen.”