March 23, 2020  |  News & Events, Sad News, Timely Announcements

Chancellor Mone has shared with us this very special note commemorating the life of Clifford Smith, who served as the fourth Chancellor of UW-Milwaukee from 1986-1990.

Dr. Clifford Smith passed away on Friday, March 13 in Portland, Oregon at the age of 88. Dr. Smith had the significant distinction of being the first African-American chancellor of a four-year institution in the UW System. He was a member of the faculty at the City University of New York, Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut before coming to UWM from Oregon State University where he was head of the Radiation Center and the Department of Nuclear Engineering.

At UWM, Chancellor Smith lead efforts to expand research, which contributed to the R2 designation UWM earned in the 1990s. He also helped expand the campus, securing approvals for the Architecture and Urban Planning and School of Business Administration buildings. He nurtured the nationally acclaimed Profession Theatre Training Program at the School of the Arts and supported UWM’s move into NCAA Division I play.

Following UWM, Dr. Smith became president of the General Electric Foundation, in which he supported many programs, including creating and awarding scholarships to various individuals and companies. Thereafter, Dr. Smith continued to consult for a number of years for engineering companies and sat on a number of company boards before he officially retired in 1999. He and his wife Nina spent their retirement years gardening, traveling, enjoying theatre and focusing on philanthropic work. Nina passed in 2016, one month after she and Dr. Smith celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. Dr. Smith remained active until a recent decline in 2020.

A brief obituary is online. Dr. Smith’s family shared that a comprehensive obituary will be published at a later time, and a full service will occur after the conclusion of the pandemic. We will share those details when they are available.

Our condolences to Chancellor Smith’s family and to the many others whose lives he touched.


This message was updated on 3/23 & 3/27 following its inclusion in the Provost’s 3/23/20 Monday Update