Contract being finalized for Smith to become next Rio President

By Sarah Hawley -

OHIO VALLEY — The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College is working to finalize a contract with Gallia County resident, and current State Rep. Ryan Smith, to be its next President, according to the Chairman of the Rio Grande Community College Board of Trustees.

Chairman of the Rio Grande Community College Board of Trustees Paul Reed explained the community college board and the University of Rio Grande Board of Trustees have worked together in the process of hiring a new president for the community college and university. Reed acknowledged that in the past the board have not always worked well with one another, but that has not been the case with this.

Details of the contract are currently being finalized and expected to be approved in the near future.

Reed said that University Board Chairman Bob Foster had a conversation with Smith previously, with Foster then approaching Reed with Smith as a possible candidate for the position.

Following the conversation with Foster, Reed said he knew they had a “strong, dynamic person” in Smith as a possible candidate.

The community college board then appointed three people to represent the board in the interview process, as did the university board.

Reed said that after interviewing Smith they felt there was no need to go further with the search.

“He (Smith) shared his vision for the community college with certificate programs, two year degrees and bringing lots of ideas to the community college,” said Reed. “He had a lot of ideas to enhance the community college experience for the four-county area.”

Rio Grande Community College has branch campuses in Meigs, Vinton and Jackson counties, in addition to the main campus in Gallia County.

Reed added that the university board also was impressed with what Smith could offer to help make Rio Grande home to a high quality educational experience.

During the interview, Reed said Smith was given hard questions to answer, including those related to the financial struggles of the college and university, the previous no confidence vote by the faculty and bringing together the board, faculty, staff and students to work together as one.

Reed said he was “in awe” of how well Smith did with answering the tough questions posed to him.

While Smith does not hold a PhD., something that is common for University Presidents to have, Reed noted that Smith brings a background in business and finance, as well as education to the position. He added that there are other recent success stories where colleges and universities have brought in individuals from the business sector to lead.

When looking at the boxes that would be checked off as to the qualities and experience that would be looked for in a new president, Reed said that Smith checked all of those boxes.

“I think the community college will be well served,” said Reed. “I feel positive about the future of the Meigs Campus and the community college as a whole.”

Reed said that through the interview process he could see Smith’s desire to help those in the area and to help move people out of poverty, with the help of the community college and its programs.

As for the next steps, a committee was appointed by their respective boards to work out the details of a contract with Smith for the position. Reed said the contract is expected to be in the hands of those committee members possibly as early as Wednesday afternoon for review. On the community college board side, a special meeting would then be scheduled for an official vote on the contract.

A series of “meet and greet” events have also been scheduled for faculty and staff to meet with Smith later this week. The events are not open to the public, with faculty and staff to have been notified by email of the times and locations.

According to his biography on his official Facebook page, State Rep. Ryan Smith is currently serving his 4th term representing the 93rd House District, which includes Jackson and Gallia counties and portions of Lawrence and Vinton counties. He was appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2012 and previously served as Chairman of the House Finance Committee and as the 103rd Speaker of the Ohio House.

Upon obtaining his B.S. in Finance from The Ohio State University in 1995, Smith worked for 10 years as a financial advisor with Advest, Inc. In 2005, he began working for Smith Financial Advisors of Hilliard Lyons, where he still serves as financial consultant, vice president and partner.

Smith maintains an active role in his community through civic involvement. In the past, he has functioned as president of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Gallia County Community Improvement Corporation and president of the Gallipolis City Schools Board of Education and is active in his local church.

Smith and his wife, Vicki, have been married for over 20 years and are the parents of Grant, Blake, Kennedy and Camryn.

Should the contract be approved, Smith would replace Interim President Dr. Catherine Clark.

Smith was contacted by Ohio Valley Publishing on Wednesday for comment but indicated he had no formal statements to make until after legal negotiations had concluded.

By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.