A SON OF THE SOUTH, Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., was born in Natchez, Mississippi and reared in Vidalia, Louisiana. He and his two siblings were raised by a strong single mother. With no father at home to guide him, Brother Smothers ended up becoming a teen-aged father, and encountered many other obstacles in his life.
At the start, being a dad became even more challenging when the love of his life, the mother of his first son, Roderick Jr., died at a very young age, of breast cancer, before they could marry. But Roderick Smothers did not falter. He graduated from high school with highest honors, was admitted to Louisiana State University on a four-year scholarship and joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Despite being activated stateside, during the Gulf War, Brother Smothers returned to campus and graduated on time. He joined Alpha at Nu Psi Chapter; became chapter president and led the chapter to the national chapter of the year title; and was elected to the national board of directors as regional assistant vice president.
Staying at LSU, Smothers earned his master’s degree in 1997, and in 2003, his Ph.D.—all before the age of 30—while working fulltime and raising his two daughters and three sons. Two of his sons became Alpha Brothers — Roderick Jr. in 2006 and Joshua in 2013 respectively.
Professionally, Smothers is a professor of Education and a fundraising expert. At 31, he became one of the youngest university vice presidents in the United States, when Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma appointed him vice president of institutional advancement and development. In 2011, Huston-Tillotson University appointed him vice president to lead its fundraising efforts in Austin, Texas. His fundraising career total exceeds $75 Million. His successes as a scholar/fundraiser and seasoned administrator led to his appointment as President of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 1, 2014 (The Alma Mater of 26thGeneral President Ozell Sutton).
In 2009, Smothers was elected to the Alpha national board as regional vice president of the Southwestern Region, where he was a leading and independent voice championing fiscal transparency and accountability; and has provided value- added services to the brotherhood.
Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. was named 14th president of Philander Smith College on October 1, 2014 and officially began his tenure on January 5, 2015. A dynamic scholar, transformative leader and forward-thinking visionary, Smothers is committed to building upon the institution’s strong and historic legacy, while advancing its mission to new levels of excellence. To learn more about Philander Smith College, visit: https://www.philander.edu
Previously, Dr. Smothers served as vice president for institutional advancement at two historically black universities: Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, and Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, respectively, where he was responsible for university development and fundraising, sponsored programs, marketing and public relations, external affairs, community engagement and alumni affairs. As an accomplished fundraiser, he has worked extensively with individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, and foundations along with federal, regional and state agencies, and holds a cumulative fundraising /grant writing record that exceeds $60 million.
While at Langston, Dr. Smothers also served as the associate vice president for academic affairs, assistant dean of the school of education and behavioral sciences and assistant professor of education. Years prior, he was on the faculty of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and was dean of enrollment management at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette. His higher education career began at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he spent eight years as an administrator in academic and student affairs.
As a higher education professional, he is also experienced in conducting scientific and applied research, facilitating data-driven, community-based interventions, and training educators aspiring to leadership roles in elementary and secondary school administration. His research agenda includes: the past, present and future of historically black colleges and universities; the transformation of toxic urban school districts, strengthening the secondary and post-secondary educational pipelines for African-American males, effective mentoring programs, the access dilemma in higher education for minority students, and the effectiveness of state merit-based tuition programs.
A native of Vidalia, Louisiana, Smothers earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public administration (with a concentration in higher education administration), and a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and counseling, all from LSU. He also holds a certification in fundraising management from The Fund Raising School at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Initiative. Additionally, he has served as a U.S. Air Force reservist with active-duty time spent during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Smothers has held membership in several professional organizations, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), American Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Research Association for Minority Professors (RAMP) and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).
A strong youth, community and civic proponent, he is a past member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. Additionally, Smothers formerly served on the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. National Board of Directors as its Southwestern Regional Vice President, and remains active with the fraternity at the local, regional and national levels.
In his leisure time, he enjoys college sports, fishing, reading and traveling. He is the proud father of five children: Roderick, Joshua, T’Keira, Wilson and T’Keyah.
Abbreviated Alpha Service Record
- Life Member # 8515
- Nu Psi Chapter President, 1995-1996
- National Membership Intake Planning Committee, 1996-1998
- Assistant Regional Vice President, 1995-1996
- Member, National Board of Directors, 1995-1996
- Associate District Director, Louisiana District, 1996-1997
- Chapter Advisor, Nu Psi Chapter, 1998-2003
- Xi Nu Lambda Chapter Vice President, 1998-2000
- Xi Nu Lambda Chapter President, 2000-2005
- Executive Director, Southwestern Region, 2000-2002
- Director of Conventions, Southwestern Region, 2003-2009
- College Brothers, Commission Chairman, 2000-2004
- Leadership Development Institute Planning Committee, 2005-2008
- Regional Vice President, Southwestern Region, 2009-2013
- Member, National Board of Directors, 2009-2013
- Southwestern Region Education Foundation Chairman, 2013-2017
- Co-Chair Onward HBCUs National Initiative, 2017-Present
Brother Smothers has always cherished the golden advice given to him by mentors during his college days at Louisiana State University. The Timeless Alpha Values were instilled in Him by Brother Dr. Huel D. Perkins (Omega Chapter 2013) and Brother J.W. Vaughn (Founder, Xi Nu Lambda Chapter). He has, subsequently, shared those same values with his two sons Roderick Jr. and Joshua who are also Alpha Brothers and countless College Brothers (especially neophytes) throughout his 25 year Alpha Journey.
The Fraternity has “made” you, now you must “make” the Fraternity, by distinguishing yourself in some field of rational endeavor. (Dr. Huel D. Perkins) Additionally, you must always honor the Fraternity’s Timeless Brotherhood Values to which all Alpha Men should subscribe (Bro. J.W. Vaughn). They are:
7 Timeless Alpha Values
- Respect for Self
- Respect for Other Brothers
- Respect for Alpha Phi Alpha
- Service (Manly Deeds/Love for All Mankind)