Home to the Hill: Trevecca alumnus returns, this time as a professor

As an undergraduate student in Trevecca’s business administration program, alumnus Joshua Smith (’12) dreamed of continuing his education, with hopes of one day becoming a professor.

Before making that a reality, Smith wanted to get some real-world experience.

“When I left Trevecca, I wanted to get some professional experience outside of academia first so I could offer more than just theory in the classroom,” said Smith.

After graduation, Smith went to work for Health Stream as a client services manager, then moved to one of the state's largest employers, HCA. Smith worked as a business analyst helping internal partners bridge business needs with the company’s IT framework.

In 2015, Smith made the decision to return to academia, earning his MBA at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). As of May 2019, Smith had completed his coursework for his doctorate (Ph.D.) in economics. He expects to complete his dissertation in 2021.

Smith’s decision in moving forward with a Ph.D. in economics was navigated with the help of recently retired Trevecca economics professor, Dr. Mary Ann Meiners, who Smith says was a valuable mentor.

“She has really helped guide me in this process,” Smith said. “While pursuing this path, I’ve grown closer to her and she has helped set me up for success in this process.”

While Smith was working on his coursework, Dr. Meiners was beginning to think about retirement in the coming years and who her successor would be.

“When Josh told me he was thinking about going into teaching and Trevecca was where he wanted to be, I got a little excited,” Meiners said. “I felt like God was doing something there.”

After their meeting, Meiners went to Greg Runyan, chair of the Department of Business Administration and Jim Hiatt, dean of the Skinner School of Business and Technology to make them aware of Smith’s desire to come on as a professor.

With the support of Meiners, Runyan and Hiatt, Smith came for an interview in November 2018 and was offered a position to start in the fall semester as an assistant professor of economics.

Hiatt taught Smith as an undergraduate in business law and remembers him as a motivated student who would be a good addition to Trevecca’s faculty.

“He was an excellent student and will be a good mission fit for the school,” Hiatt said. “I think his enthusiasm, youth and fresh ideas will contribute to the academic thought process in the department.”

Meiners agrees.

“Josh has been really successful at MTSU and is a hard worker and has really pressed forward,” Meiners said. “I’m excited for him to come to Trevecca.”

Coming into his first semester back to Trevecca as a professor, Smith is excited to step into the new role while looking to find his rhythm in the classroom. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to integrate Christian principles into his teaching.

“Economics is more than just money and the stock market, and I want to help students realize that it’s very much tied up in faith,” Smith said. “From the creation, God says be fruitful and multiply, so we are in charge of being caretakers. In an economic perspective, it’s about using all the resources we have and being accountable with them.”

Outside of the classroom, Smith is looking forward to returning to the cafeteria where lunch is no longer a task to worry about.

“You may laugh but it’s a [much] better lunch than I’m making myself,” Smith said.

Jokes aside, the most important reason for Smith’s decision to go into teaching is the connections he hopes to make with students.

“I hope to get engaged beyond just the classroom,” Smith said. “I look forward to having the opportunity to sit in the office and talk and connect with students. This is exciting to me because I had a lot of people who invested in me while at Trevecca.”

Media contact: Mandy Crow, mmcrow@trevecca.edu, 615-248-1695