Charles F. Smith, First Tenured Black Professor, Dies at 86

Charles Frank Smith Jr., Boston College’s first-ever tenured black professor, died on Aug. 1, according to an announcement by the BC Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC). Smith, who was 86, taught in the Lynch School of Education from 1968 to 1996.

Smith left his mark both on and off campus. He first arrived on the Heights as an instructor of social studies methods and the director of the Teacher Corps Program, a national organization focused on increasing early education opportunities for low-income communities. Smith went on to found and direct the University’s Urban Education Program, which continued the mission of the Teacher Corps Program. Upon retirement, Smith was named professor emeritus

He also organized the Association of Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators in 1972. As its president, Smith was an outspoken advocate for social justice and a principled critic of racial inequality on campus.

“He was the first African-American professor on campus to receive tenure, and as a consequence he has served as a mentor to all black faculty and administrators who have arrived since then,” then-Affirmative Action Director Barbara Marshall said at his retirement. “He has been very helpful in enabling others to survive on campus, eagerly sharing his wisdom.” 

Smith attended Bowling Green State University for his undergraduate education before earning further degrees from Michigan State, Kent State University, and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

In lieu of flowers, the BAIC requested donations in Smith’s name to the BC AHANA Fund.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Boston College Chronicle

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