In a remarkable career devoted to supporting the residential life of students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Newell J. Smith provided decades of dedicated service to the University, its students, their families, and the State of Wisconsin. The lives of thousands of students have been enhanced immeasurably because of Newell Smith’s valuable contributions and leadership.
Born in Galesville, Wisconsin, Smith entered the University as a freshman in 1936. He earned early recognition as a dependable student worker in the University Residence Halls. He joined the University staff in 1941 after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics, and served continuously – with the exception of military service in World War II – until his retirement in 1983.
Smith was Director of University Housing for 28 years (1955–83). During his tenure, the University of Wisconsin experienced dramatic change. Enrollment almost doubled and the number of residents in University Housing almost tripled. This was a remarkably challenging era for Housing staff, who were addressing the complex daily needs of current students as well as managing the construction of new buildings to increase capacity by nearly 5,000 spaces.