Cassandra Matthews ~ Assistant Editor
The University of Lynchburg community is mourning the loss of criminology instructor Keith Smith, and reflecting on the ways in which he influenced the university since joining the faculty in 2016.
Lindsay Stanley, a senior criminology major, was both a student and an advisee of Smith. “Professor Smith always brought a fun and safe environment to the classroom. He always kept things light and interesting, which is extremely important in the criminology major when talking about sensitive subjects. Professor Smith was always willing to work with the students to ensure they were provided fair opportunities and a quality education. Professor Smith told a lot of personal stories about himself and his career prior to [the University of Lynchburg], which made all of the students feel more connected to him as a person,” said Stanley.
She continued, “As my academic advisor for the past several years at Lynchburg, Professor Smith always checked in on me, made sure I had everything on track, and ultimately is the reason why I am able to graduate on time to begin with. He never failed to inform me of new opportunities that may interest me and always reached out with potential job opportunities. Professor Smith will be missed in and outside of the classroom, as his caring nature for his students and advisees did not stop after school hours.”
Alyssa Tkacik ‘20, a Lynchburg alumna who received a B.A. in English and Criminology, also looks back warmly on her experiences with Professor Smith. “[He] was an incredibly humble and insightful teacher and genuinely cared for his students,” she said. “One time I passed out in his class and he walked me straight to the clinic afterward to make sure I got to see a nurse. He really, really was a great guy. Everyone always commented on his humility. He was a very rare type of teacher.”
Stanley shared about one of her favorite stories of Professor Smith, saying, “[He] loved chicken sandwiches and was very interested to know whether Chick-fil-A or Popeyes had the superior sandwich. In class, he called it ‘The Great Debate’ where we all put in our opinion on the two. He then traveled to Charlottesville after this class to try Popeye’s chicken sandwich himself to give us a full report. He said, and I quote, ‘We have two find chicken sandwiches and you cannot go wrong with either.’ This is one of my favorite memories of Professor Smith in the classroom.”
Last week, the criminology program at the University of Lynchburg was identified as the best criminology program in Virginia. Dr. Kimberly McCabe, professor of criminology and colleague of Professor Smith, said, “It’s my opinion that we would not have received that recognition without faculty members such as Professor Smith.”
A memorial service for Professor Smith was held in Snidow Chapel on Mar 12. A livestream was recorded, and can be watched here: https://youtu.be/mp6GX5hdvfw