Michael Smith

Roberts Hall (R) 102
(401) 456-8004


Michael E. Smith joined the Rhode Island College Office of Institutional Research and Planning in June 2012, bringing with him over 35 years of experience in education, public policy, research, planning, and professional writing. He most recently served as Assistant to the President at Rhode Island College from 1995-2012, working with the institution’s eighth and ninth presidents (John Nazarian and Nancy Carriuolo, respectively).

He previously served as Education Specialist at the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education, where he assisted the Commissioner of Higher Education (Americo W. Petrocelli) and the Associate Commissioner for External Affairs (Anthony R. Leone). From 1986-1990, Mr. Smith served as Special Assistant to the Governor of Rhode Island; during most of that time he was the Governor’s speechwriter. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Smith was Executive Assistant to the Rhode Island Senate Minority Leader, Jonathan K. Farnum. He began his professional career as a civic education consultant to the Rhode Island Department of Education, where he served as Program Administrator for In-Site Rhode Island, a residential, state-wide civic education program for 9th and 10th-grade students. Smith has also taught political science courses in an adjunct capacity at Providence College, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island.

Mr. Smith holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University, which he earned in 1984. He is a 1979 graduate, with honors, of Rhode Island College, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Service.

He currently serves as President of the Cranston (RI) City Plan Commission as an appointee of Mayor Allan Fung. He previously held public office as a member of the Johnston (RI) School Committee from 1977-1981, having been elected at the age of 20. From 1981-1983, he served on the Johnston Home Rule Charter Review Commission, and was elected as its Chair in 1982. As a member of the Governing Board of Common Cause of Rhode Island from 1990-1995, (including a term as Vice President), Smith was instrumental in the process leading to enactment of many government reforms during that period of time, especially in the realm of campaign finance reform, for which he was the principal architect and author.

Mr. Smith is currently in his first term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island College Alumni Association. In 2014 he was inducted as an honorary member of the Alpha Beta Epsilon chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society. An enthusiastic student of local history, Smith is a member of both the Johnston Historical Society and the Cranston Historical Society, representing his home town and his current city of residence, respectively.

In 2015, he was top vote-getter for an at-large seat on the Executive Board of the Professional Staff Association at RIC (PSA@RIC, AFT/AFL-CIO Local #3302), despite having been a member of the union for just four months at the time. On behalf of the union, he developed, conducted, and analyzed a survey of the professional staff that ultimately led to the governing board’s termination of the RIC President in December 2015. This was an extremely rare instance of a college or university president being relieved of duty on account of a movement launched by a professional staff union.

Smith is married to the former Eileen E. Lennon. They have two adult children, Bryan P. Smith and Christina A. Smith, both of whom are currently in college.

Page last updated: March 28, 2016