Central College News

Central Alumnus Harry Smith Returns as an Executive-in-Residence

Featured: Central Alumnus Harry Smith Returns as an Executive-in-Residence

April 2, 2024

Central College Trustee Harry Smith, a Class of 1973 graduate, will join Central as the newest executive-in-residence. Smith, a multi-Emmy award-winning reporter, announced on air he’ll be moving on to his alma mater after spending the past 12 years on NBC News. Smith plans to be on campus during the Fall 2024 semester working with students and teaching the course, Commencement: The Beginning. Smith’s course will consider commencement as a beginning rather than a culmination of experiences.

“I have spent my life asking questions,” Smith says. “Curiosity fueled my career. Curiosity that was ignited during my time attending Central College. I came to Pella to play football but soon found myself enthralled by the liberal arts experience. I became a discoverer. I found the search for answers to be exhilarating. And I have been chasing that high ever since.

“My smart friends tell me curiosity is a trait many employers value highly,” he continues. “So, I figured why not try to pass on some of my passion to our students? And, see what I can learn in the process.”

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Harry to spend the fall with Central students teaching as part of our Executive-in-Residence program,” says Mary E.M. Strey, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “Harry will use his extraordinary experiences in his course to examine curiosity, adaptation, potential, passion and resilience in ways only he can bring to life following his years at CBS and NBC.”

Smith began his long and successful career at Denver, Colorado, radio stations before moving first to public TV and then to the Denver CBS television affiliate. In 1986 Smith joined CBS News as a reporter. Through almost 40 years anchoring and reporting for CBS News, A&E, The History Channel and NBC News, Smith has filed stories from across America and the world.

He has covered wars and revolutions, politics and natural disasters. He’s interviewed presidents, movie stars and “movers and shakers.” But his preference is always to meet the lesser known — to tell their stories.

“It’s as rich and rewarding of a career as I ever could have imagined,” he says.

Smith says he’s coming back to Central inspired by two of his fellow board members who have participated in the Executive-in-Residence program. Rick Ryan, a 1970 alumnus and general partner with Cultivation Capital, who spent most of his career in business management and new business/technology development in the life sciences industry, served as the first executive in residence in 2011. Clay Thompson, retired vice president of Caterpillar Financial Services and a 1990 Central graduate, taught his first course in Fall 2023 and will return to teach in Fall 2024. Thompson will teach Leading a Problem-Solving Organization to Central junior and senior business management majors.

“The courses taught by our executives-in-residence give Central students the unique opportunity to engage with leaders of such talent and experience,” Strey says. “Central is grateful for our alumni from a variety of disciplines who spend time engaging with the next generation of engaged citizens.”