Oral Histories

Raymond Smith

Raymond Smith - TMS

Produced by AIME, 2019

The story of the remarkable life of Raymond Smith begins with hoboing in Alaska and then onto becoming the sixth president of Michigan Tech. By circumstance, Smith was recruited by the President of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks to study at the school free of tuition. With no previous desire to attend college and only a background of piloting and fixing up cars, Smith excelled in his studies in mining engineering and went on to be accepted by famed metallurgist Robert Brick to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Smith emerged as a leader throughout his career. As a metallurgist among top-notch physicists, Smith became the head of solid state physics and a technical director for the Franklin Institute of Research, with only the qualification of his excellent mathematical abilities. In 1959, Smith began his notable career at Michigan Tech as the chair of the metallurgical engineering department. Within six years, he became the president of the university. Smith’s tenure is admired as he catapulted Michigan Tech into the great institution it is today. Smith led the movement of change towards Michigan’s role as a research university and the increased stature of its programs. As president, he saw the need for change and wanted to make it. Smith is regarded as a visionary who is responsible for shaping the modern face of Michigan Tech.