Steven Escar Smith is dean of libraries at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His leadership portfolio includes responsibility for library services for the flagship campus in Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture, as well as providing library resources to the UT Space Institute in Tullahoma. The dean of libraries also oversees the university’s scholarly imprint, the University of Tennessee Press, and a digital imprint, Newfound Press. The UT Libraries maintains a longstanding partnership with the Research Library at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With a budget of nearly $25 million, a collection of more than 3.5 million print volumes, and exceptional digital collections and online services, the UT Libraries ranks among the top 25 libraries in US public universities.
Over the course of his career, Smith has presided over numerous major renovations, new construction, and facilities improvements projects. A highly successful fundraiser, Smith has led record-setting library development campaigns and other advancement efforts. He has played a leading role in the introduction of new services, including programs in GIS, data services, open access and open educational resources, and digital scholarship. Widely recognized for his expertise in building rare and special collections, Smith has led the recruitment of major primary materials and collections of international distinction. His background includes significant teaching experience and workshop development. He has served as PI and co-PI on grants and contracts from the NEH, the NEA, and DOE.
Active in numerous state, regional, and national library and higher education associations, Smith has served on the boards of the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, the Tennessee Advisory Council on Libraries, and the steering committee of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).
Smith has been an actively engaged colleague at the campus level, as well. In 2015–16, he chaired UT’s review of the campus strategic plan, Vol Vision. From March through December of 2020, he served as special assistant to the chancellor for the COVID-19 response, including co-chairing the Reimagining Fall 2020 task force. At Texas A&M, he was a member of the Council of Primary Investigators, chaired the Aggie Bonfire Tragedy Memorabilia Committee, and served as facilitator for three major campus exhibits on the history of underrepresented communities at the university.
Before joining the UT Libraries, Smith served for 21 years at Texas A&M, rising from visiting library instructor to associate dean for collections and services, including a stint as interim executive associate dean.
He currently holds adjunct appointments in the School of Information Sciences and the Department of English at the University of Tennessee. He previously held adjunct graduate faculty appointments in the Department of English at Texas A&M and in the School of Information and Library Sciences at the University of North Texas.
Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature, and a master’s degree in librarianship from the University of South Carolina, as well as a doctorate in English literature from Texas A&M.
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