Changes in BGSU Firelands leadership announced

Dr. James Michael Smith
Dr. James Michael Smith

After six years as dean of BGSU Firelands, Dr. James Michael Smith of Fremont is leaving that post July 1 to work full time as vice president for economic development and regional growth.

President Sidney Ribeau named Smith to the vice presidency last August. Since then, Smith has divided his time between the two campuses. Ribeau recently asked the Firelands dean to focus all his attention on enhancing opportunities for comprehensive University-business collaboration throughout the region.

“BGSU Firelands has been a great place for me to lead during the course of the past six years,” Smith said. “The faculty and staff have worked incredibly hard to make the college a truly premiere place for student access and student success. Now I look forward to making the transition to focusing full time on economic development.

“I understand Dr. Ribeau’s desire to bring forth a significant enhancement for economic development University-wide,” Smith continued. “Our state is in dire need of economic renewal; we at BGSU have much to offer that can lead the state toward revitalization.”

As vice president, Smith is a member of the president’s Cabinet and works with the Regional Growth Partnership in Toledo, the Wood County Economic Development Commission, local and regional chambers of commerce, Greater Erie Marketing, businesses and colleges on specific, forward-looking development projects.

One of those projects involves developing alternative energy sources. Through the efforts of Smith and his colleagues, Firelands obtained a $1 million federal grant last summer to conduct a study to determine the type and placement of wind turbines on the campus to generate electricity.

Smith will continue to work closely with Firelands leaders on that project and others related to regional development.

Interim dean named

Dr. James Matthew Smith
Dr. James Matthew Smith

Dr. James Matthew Smith of Milan, associate dean of engagement and outreach at Firelands and no relation to the current dean, will serve a two-year term as interim dean of the college beginning July 1, Dr. Mark Gromko, interim provost, has announced.

“We needed someone who has experience at Firelands and is familiar with challenges presented there. Jim has ably handled positions of increasing responsibility, and he can fill those needs,” Gromko said.

Smith said he is looking forward to serving as interim dean and providing leadership in the continued growth and expansion of Firelands. “This is a key time for the college, with changing models of state funding and an increased need to provide a quality, affordable education for all. The college is well prepared to provide the education needed by the communities it serves,” he said.

Smith joined the Firelands faculty in 1992 as an assistant professor and program director in the Applied Sciences Department. Promoted to associate professor in 1997, he chaired the department from 1996-2005.

For the past two years, he has been associate dean, helping connect the campus and community and establishing partnerships in areas of common interest to improve services, address community issues and promote the local economy through outreach activities, scholarship of engagement and professional services of the faculty.

He also has supervised activities of Firelands’ Office of Institutional Research and the Caryl Crane Children’s Theatre; managed College Access Programs, and coordinated the college’s academic departments, Technology Support Services and the Office of Educational Outreach to support off-campus programs.

In addition, Smith is co-investigator and primary contact for external collaborators and contractors on the $1 million Coastal Ohio Wind Project that is studying the viability of wind turbines on the Lake Erie coast. He also is leading a NASA-funded Plum Brook Station Alternative Energy Development project examining hybrid energy systems to be used in conjunction with intermediate-size wind turbines.

Smith’s research interests include the impact of technological and organizational change and how it impacts productivity in the workplace. He is currently co-authoring a book that applies manufacturing management approaches to higher education.

A 1982 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Smith earned his master’s degree in technology education in 1987 and his doctorate in technical education in 1989 from the University of Maryland at College Park.

April 16, 2007