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Transcript of interview with Dr. Robert B. Smith by Dr. David Emerson, June 13, 2006


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Dr. Robert Bruce Smith was born in Philadelphia and spent his first two years in New Jersey, but thinks of California as home. His father's calling as a minister had taken them back east, and after his seminary training they returned to Los Angeles, followed by a five year stint in Oregon before returning to Vista, California. After high school graduation, Bob left home to attend Wheaton College in Illinois, a small Protestant school. He met his wife there and after completing his Bachelor's in chemistry they were off to Berkeley, where he completed his PhD in three years. Along the way, Dr. Smith had worked for G.D. Searle in Skokie, Illinois, and at first thought that this was his calling. His semester as a Teaching Assistant, however, convinced him that the academic life was what he wanted. Late in 1961, he learned of a job opening at the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada (now UNLV), interviewed with Malcolm Graham who was recruiting in San Francisco, and flew to Las Vegas to see the campus for himself. It consisted of three and a half buildings surrounded by desert. Robert's thesis director encouraged him to take the job at this new, very small college, so he and his wife drove to Las Vegas to find an apartment. They fell in love with the area and he started at UNLV as assistant professor of chemistry. He did work in organic chemistry and served as chair of the Department of Physical Sciences, as it was then called. In 1968 the department was turned into a college, and Bob became the dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. He held this position for 12 years. In 1980, Dr. Smith accepted an offer from Weber State College in Ogden, Utah, and served there as Academic Vice President (later Provost) until his retirement in 1998. He recalls with great clarity the people, changes, and events that he was involved with during the early years at UNLV. Today he and his wife enjoy their retirement in their favorite spot in the San Jacinto Mountains.

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Dr. Robert B. Smith oral history interview, 2006 June 13. OH-01722. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Dr. Robert B. Smith An Oral History Conducted by Dr. David Emerson The UNLV @ Fifty Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©UNLV@ FIFTY Oral History Proj