University bids Dean Smith farewell and good luck

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS

Associate Dean Lorenzo Smith has accepted a position as Dean at California State University-Sacramento.July 18 will be his last day at Oakland University, and Dr. Qian “Beth” Zou, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been appointed interim associate dean.

“OU has definitely become home to me,” Smith said. “I love this campus and its people.”

Photo courtesy of Oakland University
Photo courtesy of Oakland University

Dr. Smith earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1991 from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. In 1993 he finished his Master’s at Wayne State University, and he completed his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics in 1999 from Michigan State University.

Following work with Ford and General Motors, Smith started working as a professor at OU in 2000.

Smith’s research focused on sheet metal experimental mechanics. In his endeavors, he worked on laboratory tooling for evaluating forming limits, surface distortion and draw bead behavior for sheet metal.

During his research, Smith produced 57 publications and secured $3.5 million in external funding as sole-PI from multiple sources, including Pacific Northwest National Labs, Ford and Chrysler. He has also graduated seven Ph.D. students, and served as co-chair for the 2005 international NUMISHEET Conference, where he is currently a scientific research committee member.

After finding success as an OU faculty member from 2000 to 2011, Dean Louay Chamra asked him to take on the position of Associate Dean. From 2011 to present, Smith held the role.

“I am forever thankful to Dean Louay Chamra for taking a chance on me,” Smith said. “He trusted me with decision making and with leadership roles for key initiatives and programs. He is responsible for transforming the SECS associate dean position from a mundane job to an exciting career.”

Smith’s responsibilities as dean included management of four Ph.D. programs, undergraduate and graduate catalogs, admission applications, lab space, and program accreditation support.

“Lorenzo worked closely with the faculty to advance SECS academic and research programs,” Dean Chamra said. “He was very committed to working with our graduate and undergraduate students, together with colleagues across Oakland University, to ensure that the school remains on its ford trajectory. Dr. Smith will be greatly missed in the school next year. He has aggressively advocated for increased research support for our students and committed his efforts to attracting top students into engineering, and taking graduate education to a new level of excellence.”

As Co-founder and Director of the Chrysler Learning and Innovation Center For Sheet Metal Forming (CLIC-form), Smith acted as a leader to the students. His efforts helped evolve the way students are trained for the workplace, according Bruce Williams Jr. Head of Quality Resident Engineering at Chrysler, who partnered with Smith.

“I want to take the time to thank Associate Dean Smith on the behalf of the CLIC students, instructors and I for all of his leadership in building a model that has changed the way the sheet metal industry is training students for the workplace.

Lorenzo’s gentle and humble approach resonate in the students and the team involved with CLIC,” Williams said. “I consider Lorenzo not only a partner but a friend.  We will truly miss him.  We can only hope that Lorenzo expands his scope and reach with his new university.  They are very lucky to have such a passionate and caring individual on their team as Lorenzo Smith.”

While working for OU, Smith was also a mentor to students. His service included serving as faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers, in addition to hosting Grad Connection’s first public forum and an engineering student bonfire, to name a few.

“Dr. Lorenzo Smith has been an excellent club adviser,” said Jared Oluouch,  President of the OU chapter of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers). “He is always there for us for advice and consultations. He has made sure our activities are funded. He is such an inspiring role model.”

Students and faculty alike wish Smith well, but said they will miss him as both a colleague and friend. He served not only as an instructor and Dean, but an inspiration and mentor to many.

“I will always remember the kindness of the OU people, the pride showing in the eyes of our senior design students, the unsolicited thanks from graduate students, the incredible working relationship I had with Dean Louay Chamra, and the amazing professional support from the Dean’s office staff,” Smith said.

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