The Smith Resignation
Gannon Vitelli ~ Breaking News Editor
Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor-in-Chief
The sudden resignation of Dr. Aaron Smith, the vice president and dean of students at the University of Lynchburg has shaken the campus community.
Constituents across the university were alerted of Smith’s resignation through an email from Lynchburg President, Dr. Alison Morrison-Sheltar on April 9. In the email she also named Associate Dean of Campus Life, Kristen Cooper as the Interim Dean of Students.
“Although his departure may be considered a great loss to our community, his work ethic and mentality resides within all of us that he mentored, including our new Interim Dean of Students, Kristen Cooper,” said Davion Washington, student government president at Lynchburg. “I would urge the campus community to shy away from rumors and falsehoods, as Dr. Smith deserves his privacy and respect.”
Ashani Parker, senior and the 2021 Sommerville Scholar, said, “I was confused on the timing and I honestly wish, because it is Dean Smith and he has done a lot for the school, that he is honored in some way because of everything he has done for the students and the school. It would be nice if he got that recognition. I hope he goes on to better things and I wish him the best. I know a lot of students are concerned and upset because they do not know why [he left] and it was very sudden. I am personally upset because of all the things he helped me with and the school is losing someone very beneficial for diversity and inclusion.”
In May 2019, Smith was promoted into this role as vice president and dean of students after previously working as Lynchburg’s diversity and inclusion officer. He was also instrumental in developing the school’s strategic diversity plan.
Smith who is an alumni of the university was known to mentor several students on campus, particularly students of color and made a meaningful impact with his time here at Lynchburg.
Students are still reeling from the shock of his resignation.
Amanda Linehan, senior, said, “Dr. Smith deserved the highest accolades and the University chose to include nothing in their email – which is quite frankly shameful. He was a passionate and compassionate leader on this campus that students will miss. He was one of the only administrative staff members who took time out of his day to talk to me while I served him in catering. Many people ignore food service workers, but Dean Smith never did. His kindness will be remembered and missed.”
While Tyrone Harvey who is also a senior said, “My biggest concern was for Dr. Smith. He was a huge advocate for the school. It was disconcerting to see the school not fight for someone who put their life into the school. It breaks my heart to see him go as he is another one of my mentors I have had to watch leave.”
“I felt very confused about him leaving so suddenly. He had always been such a kind person who was truly interested in the lives and activities of the students on campus, and he was one of the only black men in administration, so seeing him go was really sad,” said senior Shelbi Jordan.
Interim Dean Cooper said she’s looking forward to leading the Division of Student Development and serving the student body.
“Student Development is composed of dedicated and student-centered departments and colleagues, and I am confident that each staff member, graduate assistant, and student leader will also continue to support and serve our students,” Cooper said.
Aside from the President’s announcement that Smith was stepping down, there has been no other information provided. Smith has also not made a statement about his resignation.
All information regarding Smith has been removed from Lynchburg’s website along with his LinkedIn profile.