Smith set to retire after 31-year Auburn career

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Melvin K. Smith, the longtime special events coordinator at Auburn University’s Career Center and three-time College of Education graduate, has announced his retirement, effective at the end of January.

“I have always been told that you will know when it is time to retire,” Smith said. “Well, after more than 31 years, it is time.”

He made a point to thank his many friends and colleagues with whom he has worked over the years.

“I have been blessed to have had the opportunity for so many of our paths to cross,” Smith said. “I could not have done what I have done without your support. I will miss seeing, talking and working with so many great Auburn people. Thanks for being a blessing to me during my time on campus working in Mary Martin Hall.”

One of Smith’s close colleagues in Martin Hall, which was originally the university’s library, has been Mike Reynolds, executive director of Student Financial Services at Auburn.

“I am really going to miss my friend Melvin K. Smith in Mary Martin Hall,” Reynolds said. “His quick smile and jovial personality are contagious and always welcomed. Melvin was always eager to make sure that Mary Martin Hall was well-maintained and cared for, from signage to golf cart parking spaces.”

The Career Center delivers comprehensive services for students to explore majors and careers, network with employers and professionals, prepare for advanced education and successfully transition from college to their career.

Smith said he places high value on the education he received at Auburn, which inspires both his role as a professional on campus and as a leader of several professional organizations.

“I have a B.S. in elementary education, which led to my first professional job as a fourth-grade teacher at Wrights Mill Road Elementary School here in Auburn,” Smith said. “Since starting that job, I’ve gone on to earn master’s degrees in both counseling and elementary education. Those experiences helped me tremendously as a teacher and also in my role guiding students into meaningful careers.

“I have a lot of love for the College of Education.”

Beyond his outstanding service to both Auburn and professional organizations, most notably the Association of Colleges and Employers which he led at both the state and national levels, Smith has roots that run deep in the community.

“My mother was a cook at Terrell Dining Hall when I was growing up in Auburn,” he said. “Since I grew up here, I wanted to leave for college and attend Tuskegee or the University of Alabama. My mother got sick my sophomore year in high school, so I settled on Auburn instead. I could not leave her!

“I was totally committed to her well-being. She died my first quarter at Auburn. Staying here turned out to be a major blessing, since I have always had so many friends around, encouraging me to do well.”

In addition to his mother, Smith’s father was a chef at Sewell Hall—the residence facility for Auburn Athletics—for 37 years.

“Sewell Hall, under the direction of Mrs. Anne Graves, was famous for its healthy and delicious food,” he said. “My dad was proud to be a part of that and to be part of the great athletic tradition at Auburn that he traced back to Coach Ralph ‘Shug’ Jordan.”

Going back another generation, Smith’s grandfather was the personal chauffeur for Ralph Draughon, Auburn’s president from 1947-65.

“Auburn is just in my blood,” Smith said. “It makes me so proud when I coordinate job fairs. Recruiters really love coming here because of the quality of our students. And that’s especially true of our teacher education graduates. They present themselves well and have had great classroom and field experiences.

“Principals and superintendents always tell me how our students are ready and equipped on their first day in the classroom.”

Although he looks forward to slowing down, Smith said he will always be part of Auburn, and Auburn will always be part of him.

“I love it here and really feel at home,” he said. “Wherever I go, I toot my own horn by introducing myself as an Auburn man and a proud graduate of the College of Education. Auburn has been good to me, and I have been good to and for Auburn!”

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Founded in 1915, the Auburn University College of Education enrolls 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students. Four academic units offer 60 degree options in teaching, special education, educational leadership, kinesiology, counseling, adult education, educational technology and educational psychology. The College is committed to diversity and inclusion and maintains a focus on outstanding teaching, consequential research and solution-oriented outreach in order to fulfill its mission of making a better world for all, including those most in need.