Enrollment associate vice president ready to begin new position
Alabaman to take reins beginning on March 1

by Sally Claunch

Special to The Shorthorn

An Alabama native was chosen as the new associate vice president for student enrollment services after a nationwide search garnered more than 40 applicants. Dr. Jerry Smith, a first-generation college graduate, will start his new position here March 1 to give his present employers, Jacksonville State University, adequate notice. Mary Ridgway, vice president for undergraduate academic and student affairs, has been filling the position until Smith can start. Smith is replacing Shirley Binder, who retired on Aug. 31. Smith is also a musician and spent many of his younger days jamming with Jeff Cook, the lead guitarist in the country band Alabama. Smith said he decided to give up being a drummer when his father told him,"Son, put those drumsticks down, go to college and make something of yourself." He took his father"s advice. Smith will coordinate student recruitment, financial aid, registration and orientation. He has the task of increasing student enrollment that has declined almost 25 percent over the last seven years. Dr. Ridgway said Smith"s experience in student recruiting, recruiting publications and marketing of Jacksonville State to potential students gives him the expertise required in addressing the enrollment decline here. Smith has been the dean of Admissions and Records and associate professor of education at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., since 1989. He was also the chairman of University wide Task Force on Admissions, Recruiting and Retention, which made recommendations that altered a significant number of actions within Jacksonville State. "He has tremendous energy, vision, candor and enthusiasm as well as definite people skills," said Ridgway, Smith"s immediate supervisor, "attributes we were looking for in a candidate for the position." Ridgway said his sense of recruitment markets will allow the university to acquire students from a new demographic than it has in the past. The addition of new residence halls will allow Smith to tap into a market of students who want to live on campus and wish to have a greater amount of campus life, she said. "His warmth and honesty has been well received and (he is) a person that people want to work for," Ridgway said. Smith visited with Provost George Wright, President Robert Witt and Ridgway last week to get acquainted and figure out the logistics of the transition. Smith said, "I can"t wait to get there and start working. I wish it was already March 1." He said he knew the people here by their good reputation, but working with the UTA administration has exceeded his expectations. Smith is in the process of shopping for a home in Arlington and will move here in February.