Tuesday, November 06, 2007

PC and The Dominican House of Studies Mourns

I never had Fr. Smith as a professor, but I saw him around campus often. We chatted a few times, and I attended many Masses which he celebrated. He wasn't as strict as Fr. Shanley, the current president, but he made many positive changes at PC.
Here is his obituary:
Rev. Philip Alphonsus Smith, O.P. ’63, a priest, educator, and administrator who served as the 11th president of Providence College, died unexpectedly at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence on Sunday, November 4, surrounded by close friends, including members of the Dominican Community. He was 74 years old.

A current professor of philosophy at PC and a member of the Dominican Community of St. Thomas Aquinas Priory on campus, Father Smith served as president from 1994-2005, guiding an impressive, multifaceted transformation of the College.

Under Father Smith, the College achieved a reputation as a premier regional liberal arts institution, raising the academic standing of its undergraduates to its highest level ever. Providence College was consistently ranked #2 among colleges and universities in the North Region in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide, America's Best Colleges.

During his presidency, Father Smith also enhanced the quality and diversity of the faculty; directed a revision of the Mission Statement to emphasize the Catholic and Dominican traditions of PC; and oversaw $110 million in new construction and infrastructure improvements, including the construction of St. Dominic Chapel, a new performing arts center, and the campus’ first suites-style residential facility. He also oversaw the development of the College’s first Strategic Plan.

In recognition of his many achievements and commitment to the academic standing and mission of the College, Father Smith was awarded the Veritas Medal—the highest honor the College can bestow—during the College’s Eighty-Seventh Commencement Exercises in May 2005. The Board of Trustees also voted to name the new performing arts center on the East Campus in his honor, and the facility was dedicated as the Smith Center for the Arts on October 29, 2004.
“Father Smith ably led Providence College through eleven years of opportunity and growth,” said College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. He continued, “Under his guidance, the academic profile of our student body dramatically improved and the campus landscape was transformed. I know that Father Smith was particularly gratified to oversee the building of St. Dominic Chapel, a dream that the College had long deferred. His legacy is one that we will always treasure and never forget.”

Father Smith served the Dominican Order as a priest for nearly 40 years. He entered the novitiate of the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers), Province of St. Joseph , at St. Joseph Priory in Somerset, Ohio, in 1961, and made his first religious profession there a year later. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on June 13, 1968, at St. Dominic Church in Washington, D.C., by the Most Rev. Ernest B. Boland, O.P., D. D. ’49, then-bishop of Multan, Pakistan, and currently a resident of St. Thomas Aquinas Priory at PC.

A native of Prince Edward Island, Canada, Father Smith joined the College faculty in 1981 as an assistant professor of philosophy. He was promoted to associate professor in 1984 and to professor in 1994. From 1982-1985, he also was the special assistant to then-College President the Very Rev. Thomas R. Peterson, O.P. ’51.

Before becoming president of PC, Father Smith served as president of the Pontifical Faculty of the College of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., from 1990-1994.

After earning a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the College in 1963, Father Smith went on to attain his master’s degree in philosophy from St. Stephen’s College in Dover, Mass.; his bachelor of sacred theology (S.T.B.), licentiate of sacred theology (S.T.L.), and lectorate of sacred theology (S.T.Lr.) degrees from the College of the Immaculate Conception; and his Ph.D. in philosophy and religion from Drew University in Madison, N.J. He also received honorary degrees from Brown University and Caldwell College in Caldwell, N.J., in 2005.

Born on September 6, 1933, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Father Smith was a son of the late Philip and May (Byrne) Smith. He was raised on a 100-acre farm in Fort Augustus, east of Charlottetown, and attended the Webster Corner School, a one-room schoolhouse, from grades 1 through 10, before completing his high school education at St. Dunstan’s School in Charlottetown. He came to the United States in 1959.

His body will be received at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in St. Thomas Aquinas Priory on campus on Thursday, November 8, at 4:00 p.m. Calling hours will follow, concluding with the recitation of the Office of the Dead by the Dominican Community at 7:00 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Father Smith will be celebrated on Friday, November 9, at 10:00 a.m. in St. Dominic Chapel on campus. Burial will follow in the Dominican Community Cemetery on campus.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Rev. Philip A. Smith, O.P. Scholarship Fund in care of Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 549 River Ave., Providence, R.I., 02918.


Anonymous said...

His death is very sad and disturbing. From what I have been told he wasn't suffering from anything life threatening. He was simply recovering from surgery and was expected to be released from the hospital.

Domini Sumus said...

That is very sad. I was shocked on Monday, when I heard about his death.

Sadly, I won't be able to attend his funeral, but I will make sure to get to the wake tomorrow night.