In Memoriam: Walter L. Smith, 1935-2021

Walter L. Smith who was the seventh president of Florida A&M University, died on November 25 in Tampa, Florida. He was 86 years old.

A native of Tampa, Smith grew up in Harlem. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and worked as a messenger before joining the U.S. Army. After he was discharged, Smith earned his GED and enrolled at Gibbs Junior College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry and a master’s degree in education from Florida A&M University. Dr. Smith later added a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Florida State University to his resume.

Dr. Smith served as dean of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa before being named president of Roxbury Community College in Massachusetts in 1974. He was appointed president of Florida A&M University in 1977 and served in that role until 1985.

“Dr. Smith left an indelible mark as the university’s leader, developing new academic programs and steering FAMU in the right direction,” said Larry Robinson, the current president of Florida A&M University “We’re thankful for his leadership and celebrate his legacy and join the Smith family, friends and Rattlers around the world in celebrating a life dedicated to service and one well-lived.”


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