Howard Smith, 88, whose 36-year career at UNT included serving as professor, dean of the College of Education and interim president and chancellor, died Dec. 29 in Denton. He began his career as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Newton County, Missouri, when he was just 19 years old. After serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, he returned to Missouri and earned his bachelor’s degree at Southwest Missouri State University and master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Missouri. He then became an education professor at Southern Methodist University before starting his long career at UNT in 1961.
He was nationally recognized for his work in the improvement of teacher education and higher education. In the 1960s he made news with a micro-teaching laboratory, developed with colleague Louise Allen, to observe student teachers as they conducted class.
He served as the College of Education’s first associate dean from 1969 to 1976, as acting dean from 1972 to 1973 and as interim dean from 1995 to 1997. He became associate vice president for academic affairs in 1976 and was promoted to vice president in 1980. In 1981, he served as ad interim president and chancellor while the university worked to fill the position.
Throughout his UNT career, he mentored and advised more than 100 doctoral students and worked with many international students who became college presidents and high-ranking education officials in their home countries. He also was involved in educational consulting in countries including China, the former Soviet Union and Thailand. In 1994, he received a UNT Citation for Distinguished Service to International Education, one of his many honors.
When he retired in 1997, former students established the Howard W. Smith Jr. Education Scholarship Fund. He contributed to the fund throughout the years and was a member of the President’s Council.
During his retirement, he and his wife, Margaret, traveled around the world. Both were active in the Denton community, serving on the board of directors of Denton Community Theater and volunteering for the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. He also served as chair of the Denton County Historical Commission and as founding president of the board of the Texas Lakes Trail Region Inc.
Funeral services are at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton. Interment will follow at Roselawn Memorial Park.