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Hal Smith Award

​2023 Hal Smith Award Recipient, Haley Nordwick

​Harold “Hal" Smith

Harold “Hal" Smith was born and raised in Newport, Kentucky. Growing up as a northern Kentucky river rat, Hal graduated from Newport High School where he excelled in academics, leadership, and athletics. Upon graduating from Newport High, Hal matriculated to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

While a student at Centre, Hal Smith excelled in every aspect of campus life. An outstanding student in the economics program, he was also a Student Council representative, a Resident Assistant, and a member of the Interfraternity Council representing Phi Delta Theta.  He was also an excellent athlete.  Hal was captain of the track team and the men's basketball team. In the latter sport he was named to the all-conference team three of his four years.  Hal's many contributions to the life of the College were symbolized by his receiving Omicron Delta Kappa's Leadership Award for 1964.

Something about life on the Centre campus appealed to Hal.  While a student at Centre, Hal met his future wife Karen Willis, Class of 1966.  But Hal was such a strong believer in, and a great example of, the value of a Centre education that he joined the admissions staff immediately upon graduation, eventually becoming Dean of Admissions.  Hal held that position until 1980.  During those 16 years, Hal was an important part of the College's growing strength and prestige.  Hal also served for three years as Vice President and Dean of Students.

In 1980, Hal was finally tempted to leave Centre, becoming the Vice President for Development at Muskingum College in Ohio.  After 16 years at Muskingum, Hal returned to Kentucky to assume the presidency of the University of Pikeville in 1997.  Hal retired from Upike in 2009 and was named President Emeritus. Almost immediately upon his retirement, Hal was asked to take the reins for the Governor's Scholars Program Foundation, where he served as President for 10 years before retiring in 2019.

We certainly honor Hal for his professional achievements.  Even more, we honor him for remembering that education is about more than balancing budgets or maintaining buildings.  It is about balancing life, leading by example, and building community. Hal's philosophy exemplifies the mission of the Governor's Scholars Program, “To enhance Kentucky's next generation of civic and economic leaders." It is in this spirit that the Board of Directors of the GSP honor Hal by designating one northern Kentucky student as the Harold H. “Hal" Smith Scholar.

Award Recipient Library

2022 Hal Smith Award Recipient