LANGSTON — For the past four months, Kent Smith has had two jobs.
Smith, the new president of Langston University, formally took office this week. But he's been working since he was appointed in January to familiarize himself with Oklahoma in general and Langston in particular.
All the while, he continued his duties at Ohio University, where he served as vice president for student affairs and chief student affairs officer. Generally, he said, that meant going to work in Ohio, coming home in the evenings and putting in long hours to prepare to start work at Langston.
“It's hard,” he said. “For me, the job didn't start yesterday.”
Smith succeeds former Langston President JoAnn Haysbert, who left the university last year to return to Hampton University in Virginia to serve as executive vice president. Haysbert worked in various administrative and academic roles at Hampton for 25 years before coming to Langston in 2005.
Smith holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education and a master's degree in administration and supervision from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., and a doctorate in education and human resources from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.
Smith's first days in office have been eventful. Officials announced Tuesday the university had hired Mike Garrett to be the school's new athletic director. Garrett succeeds former athletic director Patric Simon, who left in April to take a similar position at Alcorn State University in Mississippi.
School officials planned to introduce Garrett at a news conference Thursday.
Formerly athletic director at the University of Southern California, Garrett was fired from that post in July 2010 after overseeing the program through a period of major NCAA violations.
Garrett represents Smith's first major hire as LU president. Smith said the search process for a new athletic director helped him acquaint himself with the university more quickly. Courting candidates for the job forced him to learn more about the university so he could effectively sell the university to applicants.