Argile Asa Smith Jr.
|9th President Louisiana College|
August 1, 2014 (interim) - April 7, 2015
|Joe W. Aguillard|
Aguillard became president emeritus for one year effective August 1, 2014.
|Born||July 9, 1955|
Poplarville, Mississippi, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Connie Kathleen Saucier Smith (married 1975)|
|Residence||Pineville, Louisiana, U.S.|
|Alma mater||William Carey College (BA)|
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, PhD)
Argile Asa Smith Jr. (born July 9, 1955), is an American clergyman and academic administrator who served as the ninth and interim president of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College from August 2014 to April 2015.
Born and reared in Poplarville in Pearl River County in southwestern Mississippi, Smith in 1977 obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He subsequently procured a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where while in New Orleans, he was thereafter for fourteen years the J. D. Grey professor of preaching at the seminary.
Smith is the author of three ministerial books:
Before he came to Louisiana College in 2011, Smith was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Biloxi, Mississippi. He came to LC as Dean of Chapel and Associate Dean of Pastoral Ministry for the Caskey School of Divinity, an entity endowed by the Coushatta businessman Edgar Cason, who has since withdrawn funding for the school and entered into an arrangement with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Smith's former institution.
Smith and his wife, the former Connie Kathleen Saucier, also a native of Poplarville, married in 1975, both at the age of twenty. They have three grown sons, Joshua, David, and Dustin Smith.
At the time he was chosen as interim president, Smith wore four titles at LC: the executive vice president, the associate dean for Christian ministry at the Caskey School, the vice president for the integration of faith and learning, and professor of preaching and pastoral ministry.
Smith succeeded Joe W. Aguillard, whose latter tenure was shaken by a series of controversies, including a claim that Calvinism was being promoted on the Baptist campus, questions about forged documents submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the failure to finish the Paul Pressler Law School under construction in Shreveport, and the diversion of $60,000 from the Caskey School of Divinity to an LC missions project in Tanzania. The events led to the call of a student strike against Aguillard. Though the strike at first appeared unsuccessful, on March 27, 2014, it was reported that the LC trustees had asked Aguillard to resign.
On April 15, 2014, the trustees named Aguillard president emeritus beginning August 1, with Smith tapped at that same time as the interim president, pending a job search for a permanent holder of the position. Aguillard will remain as president until May 31, at which time Smith will for two months assume the temporary title of "president pro tempore". Aguillard will assist Smith in the transition of administration and may after a year of paid leave beginning in 2015 resume his former tenured professorship in the LC Graduate Teacher Education program.
Smith told a meeting in Shreveport of LC alumni that the college must rebuild trust within Baptist ranks. "I don't have a vision for a long-term future. I have a mandate to make sure we get ready for the arrival of the new president," he said. Two in the audience questioned whether the search committee would act independently of the trustee.
On June 19, 2014, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, placed Louisiana College on probation because of issues related to trustee board governance, institutional integrity, personnel policies, and audit findings regarding both student financial aid and other financial control matters.
Smith said that the decision by SACS is "disappointing" but "represents an opportunity for Louisiana College to address the issues in preparation for the arrival of a new president. Fortunately, the issues don't bring into question in any way the excellent classroom work being done by our professors and students. The issues have to do with administrative areas."
In November 2014, President Smith disclosed that Louisiana College has a $1 million shortfall for the 2014-2015 academic year. The 2014 enrollment of 1,265 is 141 fewer than in the fall of 2013. A decrease of 141 students, according to Smith, represents a loss of $2.1 million in revenues from tuition and fees paid by students, double the overall budgetary shortfall. Smith said that the institution will attempt to control expenditures but not cut jobs or contracts. Major projects under former President Joe Aguillard will be suspended, including a school in Tanzania, a law school in Shreveport to have been named in honor of former Texas Judge Paul Pressler of Houston, and a medical school and film school in Central Louisiana.