Deborah N. Smith, Ph. D., Named Interim Chair for RCHSS’s Interdisciplinary Studies Department

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 13, 2022) — Dean Catherine Kaukinen announced Deborah (Debbie) N. Smith, Ph.D., will assume the role of interim chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Department (ISD) at RCHSS effective July 1st.

Established more than a decade ago, ISD comprises eight interdisciplinary programs with a focus on diversity, social justice, and community engagement. ISD is committed to collaborating across disciplines and engaging students in hands-on scholarship and research.

“I would like to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of the ISD department faculty council (DFC) on this nomination,” said Dean Kaukinen. “I would also like to express my appreciation to Drs. Donovan, Giordano, and Aguilar for their nomination and support of Dr. Smith as the new interim ISD Chair.”

Dr. Smith has described her leadership approach as service-focused and relationship-driven, rooted in supportive advocacy so faculty and staff can be their most effective in their jobs. “We are at a juncture in our society that threatens to pull us apart versus knit us together,” Dr. Smith said. “I believe the work we do here in ISD is more relevant and necessary now than it has ever been.” Dr. Smith plans during her year as interim chair to focus on strengthening programs, increasing student enrollment, and supporting faculty members’ and students’ research initiatives. “A real concern of our faculty is the effect a climate of controversy enveloping race and equity studies might have on research and teaching,” she added. “I am comfortable making decisions and am willing to take risks, particularly if it means an overall situation can be improved. In all I do, I strive to lead with integrity, transparency, and clarity.”

Dr. Smith has been teaching at KSU for more than two decades. In 1998 she joined KSU’s Department of University Studies and held several positions in University College prior to its incorporation into the ISD, In July 2020 she became a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Smith is invested in getting to know and support students. She has a long record of being actively engaged in mentoring more than 30 students and has supervised many more through their thesis development, directed studies, and research. A strong supporter of global learning, she has led several Education Abroad trips and is currently studying with students in the 2022 Montepulciano Summer Consortium.

Smith has published and presented extensively with peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, has contributed chapters in books, has several articles currently under peer review, and has developed and published instructional support materials in collaboration with others. Her most recent publication, a practitioner-focused peer-reviewed article was co-authored with an undergraduate student. Smith’s research interests include leadership and gender, leadership education, students in transition, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.