Alan L. Smith Named Dean for Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services


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Alan L. Smith
Alan L. Smith is the new dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Utah State University Executive Vice President and Provost Francis Galey announced Friday, April 23, that Alan L. Smith has been chosen to lead the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services as dean.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Smith to Utah State University,” Galey said. “Dr. Smith has extensive experience in research and interdisciplinary collaboration that will lend itself well to one of USU’s largest colleges. His proven leadership skills will lead to continued student success and faculty excellence.”

Smith comes to Utah State after nine years as professor and chairperson in the Department of Kinesiology at Michigan State University. He has more than 24 years of experience in academia, holding professorship positions at Purdue University from 1998-2012 and getting his start in 1997 at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He has also had visiting professorships in Finland and the United Kingdom. 

Smith will begin work as dean on July 1. He said he is looking forward to joining the USU team.

“The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services enriches lives in the region through nation-leading research, instruction, and outreach,” Smith said. “I am eager to work with both the college and the Utah State University leadership team to build on this success and achieve even greater impact and prominence.”

Jamison Fargo, interim dean of the college, offered his support for Smith.

“Our college extends a warm welcome to Dean Smith, and we look forward to benefiting from his leadership and experience,” Fargo said. “Our faculty and staff are excited to share their exceptional commitment to our research, teaching, clinical, and service missions with the new dean.”

For the past nine years, Smith has led the academic unit in the Department of Kinesiology at MSU, serving more than 1,400 undergraduate and graduate student majors. He helped grow the department, secure funding, and advance a climate inclusive excellence all while prioritizing student needs. In his performance reviews while head of the department, he was described as collegial and cooperative and as a person with integrity and a strong vision as well as someone who is supportive and willing to listen.

Smith serves as the president of the American Kinesiology Association, providing leadership for the organization of more than 150 kinesiology departments at associate-granting through doctoral-granting institutions. In this position, he presides over the executive committee and works to promote and enhance the field of kinesiology as a unified field of study by providing resource materials and leadership as well as educational opportunities for kinesiology administrators.

Smith received a doctorate in exercise and movement science from the University of Oregon in 1997. He earned a master’s from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Rochester. His research addresses the link of sport and physical activity involvement with young people's psychological and social functioning. Smith is widely known for his research on peer relationships in the physical activity domain and the motivational implications of these relationships for children and adolescents. He has authored about 100 scholarly articles, extensively presents his research, and has received federal funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and U.S. Department of Education.

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services ranks in the top 11 percent of graduate schools of education in the nation (currently 32nd nationally; U.S. News and World Report) and is one of the largest colleges at Utah State University with more than 130 tenure-track faculty in eight departments. The departments are: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education; Human Development and Family Studies; Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences; Kinesiology and Health Science; Nursing; Psychology; the School of Teacher Education and Leadership; and Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling. The college is also home to thriving and innovative research centers. Overall, the college is ranked 12th in the nation among colleges of education in external research dollars ($40 million in 2020).