MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and the family of the late Eugene “Gene” Smith gather around a plaque Oct. 27, 2012, in honor of his service as interim president of the university, located in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
Middle Tennessee State University honored the late Eugene “Gene” Smith on Saturday with a campus plaque in tribute to his role as interim president.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee unveiled the plaque during a special observance in Walnut Grove on the south side of Peck Hall attended by Smith’s family and university officials and supporters.
“I am proud to be here today, paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of the late Eugene Smith, who served the state of Tennessee, and this campus, with honor and distinction,” McPhee said.
Smith, who passed away in July at age 76, was named interim president of MTSU in 2000 and served until McPhee became president in August 2001.
“I deeply valued and appreciated his hard work and wise counsel in helping me assume my duties as president,” said McPhee, who also recalled fondly the days he worked with Smith in Memphis.
A 1957 graduate of MTSU, Smith became the second alumnus to serve as president of his alma mater. A native of the Walter Hill community in Rutherford County, he attended school in Lebanon and after graduation from college, he worked as a state auditor.
Smith earned a master’s degree from Memphis State University and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi. He joined the Memphis State administration in 1963 and served until his retirement from the University of Memphis in 2000.
Smith received MTSU’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement in 1997 and was the only Tennessean to ever be elected president of both the Southern and National Association of College and University Business Officers.