Brad Smith Announced as New University President

Mr.+Brad+Smith+speaking+at+Marshall+University+commencement+in+2014..

Mr. Brad Smith speaking at Marshall University commencement in 2014..

Brad D. Smith, former CEO and current board member of software company Intuit, has been chosen as Marshall University’s new president, succeeding the outgoing Dr. Jerry Gilbert, the university’s board of governors announced today.

Smith was CEO of Intuit for 11 years and stepped down to found the Wing 2 Wing Foundation which aims to help young people be properly equipped to succeed – especially in an entrepreneurial capacity – in the Appalachian region. The foundation grants scholarships to Ohio State and Marshall Universities. Smith also serves on the board of Nordstrom and Momentive the latter formally known as Survey Monkey. Smith pledged to resign from all of his board memberships to focus on his new role as university president. 

Smith’s candidacy has been shrouded with equal parts excitement and controversy. During his visit with students a few weeks ago, a senator in Marshall’s student government association confronted Smith about practices that existed during his time as CEO of Intuit. The same senator also attempted to pass a resolution asking the board to reconsider his candidacy, which was shot down almost unanimously in a subcommittee. There was also concern about a potential conflict of interests, as Smith just a few years ago made the biggest donation in Marshall University’s history. However, it should be noted Smith and his wife Alys made a $25 million donation to West Virginia University just last year – the same amount he gave to Marshall. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has found no reason that Smith should not be considered fit to serve as university president. 

There was also concern among faculty about the lack of experience Smith has in academia, which he acknowledged in his meetings in his time in Huntington a few weeks ago. Smith pledged to make a strong effort to understand academia as well as to surround himself with those who do have that experience. He also brought up the increasing amount of universities that are choosing candidates outside of academia to become their presidents. 

The announcement was made following the formal vote made by the Board of Governors this morning – which was unanimous, however, multiple sources have confirmed the decision was made during last week’s executive session with a single opposing vote. Smith will become the first Marshall president to be an alum since Michael Joseph Farrell, who served as interim president in 2005.