Community Service Pioneer Dies

SYRACUSE – Levi Smith, founder of Syracuse University’s Thursday Morning Roundtable, the Onondaga Citizens League, and the Institute for Retire Professionals, died Wednesday, February 7, 2007. He was 88. Smith was assistant dean for community service at University College of Syracuse University from 1965 until his retirement in 1998.

Prior to his tenure at University College, Smith was assistant supervisor in adult education for the New York State Education Department, and assistant dean of the evening division and director of the Institute for Civic Education at the University of Akron. He completed three years of post-graduate work at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Smith, a devoted leader and advocate of civic and public responsibility, had the opportunity to work with many government officials and agencies. During his years at the New York State Education Department in Albany, Smith served with Eleanor Roosevelt on a number of public forums. He kept a picture of the first lady on his office wall.

He established many award-winning public service programs, including Thursday Morning Roundtable (1965), Onondaga Citizens League (1978), Institute for Retired Professionals (1972), and the Syracuse Youth Roundtable (1991). He was also a leader of the Community Luncheon Club and the Community Leadership Conference.

Smith led many special projects related to social issues and received much recognition for his work, including awards from the National University Extension Association, the National University Continuing Education Association, the SU Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Service, the Onondaga Community College Distinguished Citizen Award, the American College Testing Program, the Central New York Chiefs of Police Association, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, the New York Association of City and Village Clerks, the AFL-CIO, the Post Standard Achievement Award, and the TMR Award for Meritorious Service to the Community. Onondaga County proclaimed April 18, 1980 – the 15th anniversary of TMR – Lee Smith Day.

In 2002, the Levi L. Smith Civic Education Award was created to honor an outstanding citizen or organization that has contributed to the field and practice of civic education in Central New York. Smith was the recipient of the first award established in his name.

Chancellor Nancy Cantor commended Lee Smith for his active involvement in public service. “Lee’s commitment to community engagement was the motivation for his work at Syracuse University and University College,” said Cantor. “Thursday Morning Roundtable is a valued Syracuse University tradition because of Lee Smith.”

Bea González, interim dean of University College, worked with Smith for almost 15 years. “Lee Smith mentored young talent,” said González. “He understood the importance of grooming leadership. I’m one of those lucky enough to be a recipient of his mentoring.”

Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro said, “Onondaga County mourns the loss of an outstanding advocate, statesman, educator, author and friend. Lee Smith was a devoted pioneer for civic education and community service, and his contributions to University College, Thursday Morning Roundtable and the Onondaga Citizens League are but a few of the areas which were touched by his professionalism and kind human spirit.”


Syracuse, NY – There will be a memorial service for Lee Smith, civic leader and former assistant dean at University College of Syracuse University on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. The service will be held at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Levi L. Smith Scholarship Fund at University College, 700 University Avenue, Syracuse NY 13244.