Dr. Jeffrey Aaron Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 31, 1970 to Rachel Belle Smith and the late Dr. Jimmie Smith. Raised in the town of West End in Moore County, NC, he attended Pinehurst Elementary, Pinehurst Middle and Pinecrest High schools.
Dr. Smith was an accomplished student at Pinecrest High School, participating in band, cross country, and track. He excelled academically and demonstrated strong leadership. Dr. Smith became the first high school student honored by the Moore County Board of Education for having been Class President for four consecutive years (1984-88).
Dr. Smith followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, grandmother, mother, and brother (Jimmie) by entering Johnson C. Smith University (“JCSU”) in 1988. Dr. Smith’s mentorship would later influence the matriculation of younger family members to the University (Jason, brother; Twyla, sister; Tonya, cousin). A stellar academic record afforded Dr. Smith early summer admission to JCSU; ahead of classmates who would not enter until the fall. While at the University, he held numerous leadership positions with Student Government, the “International Institution of Sound” Marching Band and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Dr. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in English as a proud member of the JCSU Class of 1992. He continued his education over the next two decades by first earning a Master’s of Divinity from the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. While a seminary student, Dr. Smith would travel roundtrip more than 300 miles each Sunday to West Minister Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina to provide services. Later, Dr. Smith earned a Doctorate of Ministry from Gardner–Webb University in Boling Springs, NC. Dr. Smith was the first African American to be awarded the Doctor of Ministry from Gardner-Webb.
Dr. Smith would return to JCSU, the school he loved so dearly, to begin a passionate career helping young people succeed. Over the course of several years, Dr. Smith served in several roles including University Chaplain, and as an adjunct professor. As Director of Admissions in 1999, Dr. Smith was instrumental in helping the University achieve record enrollment growth. Under his leadership, freshman applications increased by more than 50% over a four year period.
In November of 2002 Dr. Smith’s drive to foster young people would be fortified by the untimely passing of his younger brother Jason, at the time a 21-year-old Junior at the University. Ultimately Dr. Smith ascended to the position of Vice President of Student Affairs, and would accomplish a strong record of leadership. He would continue to implement strategies that championed enrollment growth while also improving student retention rates. Dr. Smith would go on to share his gift of student advocacy with Bethune-Cookman University in Florida and Shaw University in Raleigh, NC where he spearheaded a significant campus renovation project following a devastating tornado (2011).
In September of 2014 Dr. Smith met his untimely passing at the young age of 44. He passed while working at Cheyney University in Pennsylvania where he had recently assumed the role of Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Smith is survived by his wife Mildred Smith, and three sons, Michael, Jamar and Jared. His legacy lives on through the establishment of this endowment.