Outstanding Southeastern Faculty & Staff

Dr. Tim Smith

Dr. Joel “Tim” Smith is a professor of chemistry, chair of the Chemistry, Computer, and Physical Sciences department and the Engles Endowed Chair of Biomedical Sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He grew up in the rural farming community of Milburn, Okla., about 25 miles northwest of Durant.  He attended K-12 at Milburn Public Schools and graduated from Milburn High School with a total senior class of 12.

Smith is a first generation college student; neither his parents, grandparents, nor even cousins attended college. He chose to attend Southeastern for his undergraduate studies and majored in chemistry with minors in physics and math.  After graduating, he attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and earned his Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus in analytical chemistry.

While pursuing his education, he never intended to return to higher education as a teacher. After obtaining his Ph.D., he entered industry, working for Monsanto Corporate Research in St. Louis, Mo.  In the 1990’s, Monsanto was the third largest chemical company in the world in terms of annual sales.

While he and his wife enjoyed the endless number of events that occur in the big city, they wanted to be closer to their families. Southeastern had an opening for a teaching position in his area of expertise and Smith joined the faculty of the Department of Physical Sciences in the fall of 1995.

As chair of the Chemistry, Computer, and Physical Sciences department, Smith has teaching and administrative duties. He teaches General Chemistry I and II as well as Chemical Analysis and Instrumental Analysis, which is his specialty in chemistry. Additionally, he teaches a variety of upper level courses.

Some of his responsibilities as chair are to make the course schedules each semester, make teaching assignments, as well as serve as the department’s representative to administration.  He also provides annual evaluations for all faculty and staff in his department, meets with students to hear their concerns, and serves as the faculty advisor for chemistry, pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy and pre-optometry.  Smith regularly advises an average of 70 students.

One of the favorite parts of his job is seeing students “figure it out.”  With all the uncertainties students face today, helping guide them to master the content of their major is extremely rewarding for the Southeastern grad. More than 50 students he has advised and mentored have earned doctorate or other terminal degrees.

When asked what made him decide he wanted to work at Southeastern, Smith gave a quick response.

“That is an easy one …,” he said, “… it is home.   I wanted to teach and mentor students and have a positive impact on their lives in the same way Southeastern faculty trained and mentored me as an undergraduate.”

To Smith, one of the most distinguishing facets about SE is students will never be a face in the crowd.  The faculty will know you by name. He notes that the relationships between faculty and students may start in the classroom, but continues with mentoring, advising and genuine concern about the students’ progression with their education.

“We will provide the support, encouragement and guidance to allow you to succeed in your career,” Smith said.

Outside of his time at SE, Smith stays busy with his family, spending as much time with his two boys, ages 13 and 17, as he can. He enjoys fishing and boating as well as bicycling as time allows. He also enjoys “fixing” things in his shop and is always looking for an excuse to buy the next tool.