OWU Home

Elden T. Smith, 11th President of Ohio Wesleyan, Passes Away at 96

February 7, 2007

Elden T. Smith ’32
The entire Ohio Wesleyan University family joins in mourning the death of Elden T. Smith ’32, who served the university as president from 1962 to 1969. Smith died February 5 in Seminole, Florida.

Born in Elyria, Ohio, in 1910, Smith graduated from Ohio Wesleyan and received both his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Western Reserve University.

His entire adult life was spent in education. He began his career as a professor of speech and theater at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He was Bowling Green’s dean of students from 1955 to 1961, when he became provost at his alma mater. He assumed the presidency of Ohio Wesleyan in 1962, remaining in the post until 1968. Smith Hall, which was completed in 1968, is named in honor of Smith and his wife, Betty Nilson.

After leaving Ohio Wesleyan, Smith became executive director of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., serving from 1969 to 1976; he then assumed the post of director of Presidential Search Consultation Service, also in Washington, until 1979.

Smith was a Life Trustee of Ohio Wesleyan, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Tampa. He was the recipient of several honorary degrees: an L.H.D. from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; an Ed.D. from the University of Findlay, Findlay, Ohio; an L.H.D. from Chapman College, Orange, California; and an LL.D. from Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio.

He was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Theta Alpha Phi (National President, 1954-56), and the Masonic Order, Scottish Rite, 33rd Degree.

Predeceased by his wife, Betty Nilson Smith ’36, and his daughter, Cheryl Smith Sedgwick ’60, he is survived by his son, Hugh Nilson Smith, and grandchildren James, John and Michael Sedgwick, all of California, Margaret Schroeder of Portland, Oregon, and Patricia Milholland and Kathryn Olivera, both of Seminole, Florida. Seven great-grandchildren also survive.

Dr. Smith’s family has established the Elden T. Smith Memorial Fund in his memory. Donations may be made online, by calling 740-368-3306, or by mail at: Ohio Wesleyan University, Annual Giving Office, 61 S. Sandusky Street, Delaware, OH 43015.

A public memorial service will be held on Friday, February 9, at 4 p.m. at Anona Methodist Church, 13233 Indian Rocks Rd., Largo, Florida. A service in Gray Chapel will be planned for the future.