Longtime Grambling State educator knows the university, faculty, staff
By GRETA CARTER
GSU Media Bureau
Grambling, LA – A number of universities sought to recruit Ellen Smiley as an undergraduate student. Her parents encouraged her to attend Grambling State University; both her parents and her sister are/were alumni. Now she’s the institution’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
GSU President Rick Gallot quickly recognized Smiley’s attributes, contributions and deep love for Grambling State, and he chose her as his interim provost in August. Still, that meant that she would have to compete for the permanent job. There was a national search, a strong pool of finalists and Smiley was the unanimous choice of the search committee. Gallot accepted the recommendation.
“I chose Smiley not only for her strong academic background, but because she has a GSU commitment and heart,” he said.
Smiley completed her undergraduate education at GSU, earning a bachelor’s degree in radio and television communication, now known as mass communication, and she earned a master’s in teaching social science, with a concentration in sociology at Grambling State. She earned her doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors recently (Feb. 23) confirmed Gallot’s selection at its February board meeting in Baton Rouge.
“I am confident that my longstanding history with Grambling State University, vast experience and extensive knowledge will permit me to make an immediate contribution to the overall operational and educational goals of the university, specifically within the Division of Academic Affairs,” said Smiley, a native of Homer, Louisiana. “The Grambling State University family impacts the world in a powerful way. To serve as the provost and vice president for academic affairs of this prominent institution is a humbling honor.
“I love being a part of President Gallot’s fast-paced, energized team. His leadership motivates us to pursue excellence in all that we do.”
Smiley was recruited to Grambling State University to assist with the development of the Honors College in 1990. During her career, Smiley has continued her work with the honors program in a number of positions and she has served in other academic and administrative capacities. She has served as the assistant dean of the Honors College, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and executive assistant to the president. She is a member of the president’s cabinet, the university’s budget and priorities committee and several other university committees. Smiley is quite accustomed to faculty desires and needs, too; she served as president of the Grambling State University Faculty Senate for several years.
Gallot said Smiley’s years of service are a symbol of her commitment and willingness to strive for sustainability and longevity at Grambling State University. “Dr. Smiley has been here and she has a better feel for talented people within a certain area because she is familiar with the employees,” said Gallot. “This advantage allows Smiley to quickly notice, suggest or make improvements because she has analyzed skill sets of faculty, staff and students and will be able to match people in the most beneficial areas to increase effectiveness and efficiency in departments where employees are being underutilized.”
Smiley said she is excited to continue her work at GSU, and to continue in the job she started in late summer, more permanently pursuing goals to improve academics at the school overall and helping faculty provide students with encouraging and substantive learning opportunities.
“Not only does it provide an opportunity to give back to my alma mater, but it is an honor to be a part of President Gallot’s team,” she added. “I plan to cultivate leading strategies to build, manage and recognize a high-functioning, performance-driven team of faculty and staff. I plan to inspire the faculty, staff and students in a manner that encourages them to release those energies and passion that boost academic excellence.”
Smiley said she plans to pursue new programs and new concentrations as Grambling State “continues to meet workforce demands, ensuring that our learners are prepared to work and serve.”
Smiley is married to Dr. Rory L. Bedford, director of GSU’s Service-Learning and Continuing Education programs and a professor of philosophy, sociology and psychology. They have three children: Joi Bedford-Williams, an alumnus of Alabama A&M University; Samantha Bedford, a senior at Alabama State University, and Prentiss Smiley, a senior at Grambling State University.
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