Reflecting on Brad D. Smith’s First Year as Marshall University’s President

Marshall University President Brad D. Smith giving out cookies to students sitting down

Brad D. Smith was elected as President of Marshall University in October 2021 and stepped into the role in January 2022. After nine months in office, Brad was officially installed as the 38th president during a ceremony on September 16, 2022.

In the year since Brad D. Smith has come into his presidential role at Marshall, the school has undertaken numerous initiatives to drive the university and its students forward. Brad’s work has been centered around Marshall’s vision statement, which is to “inspire learning and creativity that ignites the mind, nurtures the spirit and fulfills the promise of a better future.” 

Keep reading to learn more about Brad’s first year as Marshall University’s president and the developments he has set into motion.

Supporting Marshall’s Current and Future Students

During Brad’s investiture speech, he spoke to one of the greatest challenges being faced by Marshall and higher education at large: enrollment. Since Marshall University’s peak enrollment in 2010, the university has seen a 22% decline. In an effort to grow enrollment, Marshall has shifted its focus from admissions to recruitment to appeal to prospective students from all walks of life. 

Marshall has transformed its process, tailoring to high school students, military veterans, working parents and those who want to further their education through non-traditional paths. This means transforming education to allow students to learn how and when they want. Brad has also placed an emphasis on giving opportunities to students who have traditionally been overlooked and underserved.

Cutting the Cost of Education to Improve Opportunity

Marshall has improved its affordability by extending Metro tuition to students within a one-hundred-mile radius of Huntington, West Virginia. This extension includes 59 counties in Ohio and Kentucky, granting more students access to higher education. As Brad often says, education is one of the great equalizers for opportunity. He believes equipping more students with an education will help to drive the next generation of leaders in West Virginia.  

A larger goal driving Brad in his presidency at Marshall is making it so, over the next decade, no Marshall student graduates with student loan debt. Brad and the Marshall team are currently drafting the blueprint to implement this goal. Apart from filing a FAFSA form and covering the eligible contribution portion of their tuition, this initiative will require students to complete a few obligations in order to receive financial support from the university. Marshall will challenge students to complete their studies in four years, as well as participate in a work-study program or paid internship. Students will also be required to complete a financial literacy course.

Investing in the Marshall Administration

Building a strong team is imperative to the university’s success, and taking care of those who work at Marshall is another key piece of Brad’s vision to drive the university forward. Brad and his administration have taken measures to fill vacant and soon-to-be-vacant seats, hiring global leaders that bring unique experiences in education, technology and digital marketing, which are in-demand skills for the future. Over the past year, the Marshall administration has conducted fair pay studies and has appointed a Chief Diversity Officer as well as a Chief Talent Officer to create a fortified governance.

Focusing on Marshall’s Economic Impact

West Virginia’s economy depends on building the future workforce now. As an advocate of growing the Mountain State’s economy, Brad has focused much of his work at Marshall and with philanthropic organizations, such as the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, on transforming West Virginia. At Marshall, Brad has specifically aimed initiatives at workforce readiness and job creation to support students in their endeavors after graduation while boosting the local economy. This includes Marshall’s certificate programs which help better prepare students  for their careers.

Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is a crucial part of growing the economy. Although the Brad D. Smith Student Incubator is not a new initiative, it continues to serve as a valuable resource for young entrepreneurs at Marshall to launch their start-ups and receive the resources and guidance they need to build a successful business.

Marshall for All, Marshall Forever

From attracting a new generation of students and broadening the definition of education, to supporting the local community and economy, Marshall University and Brad D. Smith will continue to innovate for a prosperous future, enhancing the student and faculty experience both inside the walls of the university and beyond. Brad strongly believes in the Marshall community and the positive impact being a member of it can have on a person’s life. As he often says, “Marshall for all, Marshall forever.”