Roland B. Smith, Jr. is Associate Provost and Adjunct Professor of Education and Sociology at Rice University. His teaching and research interests include ethnographic research methods, educational access, cultural diversity, school-university collaborative relationships, urban studies, and sociology of education. He mentors Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows and others planning to pursue the Ph.D. He teaches ethnographic research methods and chairs the University’s Educational Outreach Council. Dr. Smith came to Rice after 23 years at the University of Notre Dame, where he served as Executive Assistant to the President, concurrent associate professor of sociology, founding Director of the Center for Educational Opportunity in the Institute for Urban Studies. Before working in higher education, Dr. Smith was a research intern in the United States Senate and manpower planner for the City of South Bend, Indiana.
He served as Board Chair of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education and as a member of the Indiana Advisory Board to the US Civil Rights Commission. He was appointed to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission established by the 98th U.S. Congress, and chaired by Ms. Coretta Scott King. More recently, he served as Chair of the Black Caucus of the American Association for Higher Education and member of the Board of Directors for the American Conference of Academic Deans and the Bowie State University Board of Visitors. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Harvard Alumni Association and several local organizations.
A native of Washington, DC, he holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from Bowie State University (1969), a M.P.A. from Indiana University (1976) and an Ed.D. from Harvard University (1988).