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Joshua Smith '14 Gets a Bird’s Eye View of UC as a Board of Trustees Member


Joshua Smith arrived at Ohio University in the fall of 2006 intending to pursue a degree in education.  Smith switched to political science/pre-law as a sophomore, however, realizing he wanted to attend law school down the road.

“I always liked the idea of representing someone and the court system always amazes me, along with the entire legal system,” said Smith, a native of Westerville, a northeast Columbus suburb.

He didn’t graduate until 2011, but it was not because he needed a fifth year of classes to graduate.  Rather, he spent a year deployed in Bagram, Afghanistan as a United States Army Military Police Officer.

Smith spent the spring of 2008 and that summer following his sophomore year in basic training, as part of becoming a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves 447th MP CO. He returned to the Athens, Ohio, campus for his junior year, but spent July 2009 through July 2010 in Afghanistan.

“It really was a great experience,” Smith said. “It’s kind of an adventure in a way. You’re going to a country you know nothing about.”

Smith said his year in Afghanistan went by “really fast,” and he made some of his best friends there. During the first half of the deployment, he did basic security operations, manning guard towers and doing patrols around the base. The second half involved detainee operations, doing a lot of prison work.

After returning from Afghanistan, Smith returned to OU for his final year of school, where he became president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. He received a national award for “Outstanding President” for that 2010-11 year.

Joining the UC Law Family

The 2011 OU graduate was attracted to the College of Law for a number of reasons as a prospective student, including the small class sizes. Since enrolling at the College of Law, the current 2L has been impressed by the faculty.

“I’m working with Professor (Sandra) Sperino right now on an individual research project. I took her Employment Law class and Civil Procedure II and enjoyed her as a professor,” Smith said. “I’m also in Professor (Felix) Chang’s Agency class, and also enjoy him as a professor.”

Smith is a member of Moot Court and will be one of two directors of its intramural competition next fall. He also participated in Student Court as a 1L, where he and some of his peers represented UC students in disputing parking tickets. It was through this activity that Smith made an interesting connection, one that led him to a position that no other student on the entire campus holds: graduate student trustee on the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees.

“I actually represented the Graduate Student Governance Association’s president in Student Court,” Smith said. “She liked me enough that she thought I would do a good job at that position and told me to apply for it.”

Being a Member of UC’s Board of Trustees is a Big Responsibility

After submitting his resume last April and participating in a phone interview of sorts during the summer, Smith was offered the position for a two-year term.  “It was kind of a shock to me,” said Smith, who is joined by an undergraduate student as the non-voting members of the Board.

Smith attends public Board of Trustees meetings every two months. While not a voting member, he is still asked for input and gives a report every two months on the entire graduate body – the College of Law, the College of Medicine and the other graduate programs. He also serves on subcommittees as well, including the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, as well as the Finance and Administration Committee.

In this first term, which dates back to August, Smith was involved with a number of issues and happenings, including the appointment of President Santa J. Ono in October.

Outside of school, Smith is a law clerk at the Law Office of Marc Mezibov. He also spent last summer as a judicial extern for Judge Sandra S. Beckwith in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Smith is an avid sports fan and he made his first Great American Ball Park appearance of the season on April 5, when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Washington Nationals 15-0.  The Westerville North High School graduate will be living in Columbus this summer and hopes to play in some pick-up rugby games with his former high school teammates.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13