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Larry Smith, Founding Member and Favorite Teacher

by Kathryn Park on 2017-08-08T17:18:00-05:00 in COM History, Staff, Community

Larry Smith was a founding member of College of the Mainland, a favorite instructor and innovator on campus.

Founding Member

Larry Smith Lectures ClassIn 1967 he was hired as history instructor for Social & Behavioral Sciences Department at COM. Smith said that he came to College of the Mainland because he wanted to teach in a college with progressive views in the prospective of a democratic society.

Smith remembers early days of COM as exciting. The 60’s – times of freedom of education, social progress and bold questioning of established thing. The college staff was small, but young idealistic and enthusiastic. The community shared that enthusiasm. The community saw the College as a place of inclusion. President Stallworth and the Board of Trustees were also helpful and encouraged COM faculty to be innovative and different in their educational approach.


Though he later went back to teaching, Smith soon became the Director of Adult Education and Community Services. At the time Smith stated his belief that the college is committed to openness, quality, competence, and the democratic way of life.

In the 70’s, Smith soon became involved it the Great Lecture Series, which invited those in the news to speak about prominent issues of the day. Speakers included David Brinkley, Carl Rowan, Dan Rather, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator Robert Packwood, Julian Bond, Shirley Chisholm, Madalyn O’Hair, and many others. 

In the 80’s, Smith Founded COMunity. His functions as President of the union were to represent employees when their jobs were at risk; negotiate fair earnings and working conditions; resolve conflicts and establish scholarships for students.

Favorite Teacher

Smith speaks at Bennie Matthews RetirementWhile Smith contributed to the College in many ways, perhaps his most important role was that of teacher. Loved by students, he received the Outstanding Teaching of the Year Award multiple times.

After retirement Smith would return to the College to speak at events such at the late President Stallworth's Memorial and long time BOT member Bennie Matthews' retirement. 

You can see more photos in our Larry Smith album or more about COM History.

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