HUNTINGTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – In a move that caused widespread support on social media and among many Marshall University graduates, the MU Board of Governors today chose Brad D. Smith as the school’s next president. He will assume his position January 1, 2022.
Smith is a West Virginia native and Marshall alum. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Intuit.
Current President Dr. Jerome Gilbert. Gilbert announced during today’s BOG meeting that he will end his presidency in December. He will remain at the university for a period of time to assist in Smith’s transition, he said.
Smith drew some skeptics when he was announced as one of five finalists for the job. Most critics said he lacked any higher education experience.
But one BOG member, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said he did not view that as much of a problem.
“He came out of Kenova and made it rich in the real world,” the member said. “He’s one of us and he will propel the university forward. With Brad Smith around, people will forget who E. Gordon Gee (West Virginia University president) is.”
Smith will succeed Dr. Jerome Gilbert. Gilbert announced during the BoG meeting that he will terminate his presidency in December, but will remain at the university in a different role to help the transition with Smith. His contract as president was set to expire in July 2022.
Smith clearly amassed personal riches as CEO of the Fortune 500 company Intuit for 11 years. Supporters pointed out that he and his wife have been generous in supporting MU projects over the years.
He is the executive chairman of the board of Intuit, chairman of the Nordstrom board and a board member of Momentive (originally known as SurveyMonkey). He has also served on the board of Yahoo.
The Smiths may be best known for their $25 million gift to the MU College of Business in 2018.
In an October interview with MetroNews, Smith responded to critics.
“What I think helps me in the situation is I am also a native of West Virginia, I am a graduate of our public education system in West Virginia, I’m a proud son of Marshall. None of those things qualify me to be president but they prepared me to a 36-year career that led large complex organizations through transformational change while preserving the core mission of that institution,” Smith said at the time.
While gaining his bachelor’s degree at Marshall, Smith was awarded a master’s in management at Aquinas College in Michigan.
While supporters voiced widespread enthusiasm when learning that Smith would be introduced as the new president at a 2 p.m. press conference, others anxiously awaited his concurrence in what is apparently the university’s plan to move its athletic programs to a new conference.
In the shifting world of college athletics, multiple sources have confirmed that MU will move from Conference USA to the Sun Belt Conference. Announcing that decision had apparently been held up awaiting the appointment of a new President.
“It just makes sense to start the new Brad Smith era at Marshall with a move up in our athletic program,” said another BOG member. “I think he’ll get that done right away.”