Muir Provost to Step Down

    “I’ve been provost for about seven-and-a-half years and I’m just at a point where I’m at an age where people tend to retire, and I have a lot of other projects that I want to pursue in retirement,” Smith said.

    Smith joined Muir’s administration in 1990, after the college became the sponsor of the Women’s Studies program, now named Critical Gender Studies.

    “Since my scholarly work involves women and their relationship to the arts, I thought, ‘Wow, I can really get behind a college that sponsors women’s studies,’” Smith said.

    Visual arts is Smith’s specialty. She used to teach courses such as introduction to art history, senior honors and specialized upper division classes in medieval art. She created a course called “Castles, Cathedrals and Cities,” which is usually offered Spring Quarter. She was chair of the visual arts department from 2000-04. Since becoming provost, she has only been able to teach a freshman honors seminar for Muir College.

    Smith says that working with the Muir staff has been one of her favorite parts of the job, because she sees how much the administration does for the college.

    “I think the Muir staff is really terrific; they make my job possible,” Smith said. “I’ve just come to such an appreciation of what the college staffs do for students. That’s been a highlight.”

    The design of the Tamarack Apartments was one of Smith’s proudest projects as Muir Provost. The Tamarack housing committee, consisting of staff, students and architects, wanted to make sure that the new building would be consistent with the existing architectural style. She said that the Muir College design is considered to be an exemplary collection of midcentury modern buildings by historians and architects. Two of the original architects of the college, Dale Naegle and Robert Mosher, were part of the committee.

    “I’m very proud of Tamarack and what we accomplished with that because a different building could really be disruptive to the college, but where Tamarack is positioned, it does work,” Smith said. “It doesn’t duplicate the old buildings, but it has the same kind of style and spirit as our other residence halls.”

    Smith is also proud of reinstituting the Muir Wilderness and Human Values course. It was a course started by Muir’s first provost, John Stewart. The course was about wilderness ideas and theories as well as preservation and the history of local preservation. Stewart took the students on backpacking field trips where they explored the woods. Undergraduate students were allowed to be TAs. After Stewart retired, the course was dropped. Smith revived the class and it is now being taught as an environmental studies course.

    When she retires, Smith plans to spend more time in northern California, where her son lives with his wife. She will hike with them and get involved with local conservation organizations.

    As Muir Provost, Smith has had to put her research projects on hold. She looks forward to finishing a book she is writing on women in medieval art. She also would like to start a project about 19th-century popular photography.

    Smith said she would like to be involved with UCSD after her retirement, but does not know what form this involvement will take. She also applauded the six-college system that UCSD has because it gives students more choices for general education requirements.

    “UCSD students are very smart; they have two affinities or more, like athletics and whatever it happens to be,” Smith said. “The loyalty they have is very impressive. I come out of my seven years as provost a big fan of the UCSD colleges.

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