Robert L. Smith, 47BSCE, 48MS, is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas and civil engineer specializing in water resources. In both academia and government, Smith has worked to ensure the quality and availability of water. He is known as a diligent, resourceful, and conscientious engineer. Now retired after four decades of teaching, Smith's former students praise his dedication and credit him for their own successful engineering careers. More than an able instructor, his involvement with students extended beyond the classroom. Smith's colleagues and protégés from around the country praise his continuing involvement in their lives.
Teaching by example, Smith has had an accomplished career as an engineer and public servant. Instrumental in shaping water policy for the state of Kansas and Iowa, his pioneering studies became the model for other states around the nation. Smith served as special assistant on water resources for President Lyndon Johnson and his work on water availability has been used in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine foreign countries.
Smith has earned awards for both technical achievement and public service. In 1975, he was one of the first UI engineering graduates elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1988, he received the Julian Hinds Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and in 1980 he was awarded the U.S. Geological Survey's Centennial plaque. Both honors recognized his sustained contributions to water resource management.
An enthusiastic UI supporter, Smith and his wife Lucille, 48BA, are members of the Alumni Association, the Old Capitol Club, and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.