Residential Life would like to introduce you to our recently hired Director of Educational Initiatives, Ralphel Smith. Ralphel is a native of South Carolina but came to UConn from Georgia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Lander University in South Carolina, a M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in student affairs administration from the University of Georgia. He has worked at the University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia in residence life and education. His most recent position was as the Associate Director for Residence Life at the University of Georgia where he supervised full time Area Coordinators and Residence Hall Directors. During his tenure at the University of Georgia, Ralphel worked with establishing academic partnerships such as the first residential college on campus and the first language floors for residents. In addition, Ralphel was very instrumental in promoting other issues on campus, such as advocating for more diversity in the student population, more support for students who were victims/survivors of assault and domestic violence, and more assistance and knowledge of college students from foster care/homeless backgrounds. All of these resulted in Ralphel developing great partnerships outside of his department and division where he served on the Student Assault Response Team (SART) through the Equal Opportunity Office and where he served on several committees/boards within the Office of Institutional Diversity over the past twenty years. Ralphel has also served on the EMBARK group a statewide Georgia organization advocating for students from foster care/homeless backgrounds that was a part of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.
Ralphel considers himself a student and staff advocate at this point in his career. He believes that we must acknowledge our students and staff plus all the diversity they bring with them from their race, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, etc. The University of Georgia acknowledged Ralphel several times over his tenure with awards such as the Lee Ann Sewell award for service to students and the Vice President’s Distinguished Leadership in Student Affairs Award. The Southeastern Association of Housing Organization (SEAHO) also recognized Ralphel with the Charles Beane Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to SEAHO in 2009.
In addition to his work as an administrator, Ralphel served as an adjunct faculty in the College Student Affairs Administration program at the University of Georgia from 2006 until 2017. In both 2011 and 2012 Ralphel received the adjunct faculty of the year honor awarded by the academic program and the Division of Student Affairs jointly. Ralphel has also served as a Graduate Affiliate (Online Faculty) in the Leadership, Technology, and Higher Education program at Georgia Southern University since 2014.