Celebrating a career of teaching and serving others

Karl Smart’s legacy at CMU can be summarized in one word: giving

| Author: CBAnews | Media Contact: CBAnews

Karl Smart holding his
Karl Smart holding the 2022 Bob Cook Service Award

Karl Smart served Central Michigan University and its College of Business Administration for more than 20 years in many capacities, including as a faculty member and department chair, interim associate dean, and university committee member. While these are just a few of his positions and responsibilities, in everything he’s done, Smart has brought innovation to campus, fostered connections amongst faculty and students, and created a culture of serving others.

While he starts the next chapter of his story — retirement — the contributions he’s made to the university will have an impact long beyond his tenure.

When Smart joined CMU in 2003, he helped shape the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Department of Entrepreneurship. He also played a part in establishing the New Venture Challenge, which continues to transform students’ lives today.

As his career continued, Smart helped develop multiple degree pathways, including the general business major with an applied business communication concentration and the cybersecurity certificate. He was a pioneer of online education, helping lay the groundwork for online courses within CBA that would lead to greater knowledge accessibility for all.

“One of the things I have loved most about CMU is the ability to be forward-thinking,” Smart said. “When we identified a need or an opportunity, we were able to take action. The result has been better programs and experiences for our students.”

While Smart was a visionary, he also enjoyed rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. His proudest professional moment was when he was both teaching and serving as chair of the business information systems department. During this time, he found joy in the comradery of the faculty and in the collective progress toward new methods and ideologies.

A master communicator, Smart’s ability to bring people together, combined with his reputation of kindness and respect, made him a key player in advancing everything from college curriculums and out-of-classroom learning opportunities to professional, positive working environments, and more.

“I like working with people and I like being innovative,” he said. “Bringing people together to implement new things and further existing efforts has always been very rewarding to me.”

Among his peers, Smart was known as a consistent supporter of college initiatives and experiential learning opportunities.

“Karl was a thoughtful colleague, always raising his hand to serve his department, college, university and profession on several formal committees and projects year after year,” said CBA Dean Chris Moberg. “The countless unseen moments where he gave his time and effort are what have made him such a cherished member of CMU.”

In retirement, Smart anticipates spending a lot of time with his seven grandchildren and giving back to his community.

In a final nod to his impressive career, Smart recently received a thank you email from a former student who now owns a successful management consulting business. The student, enrolled in a leadership course Smart once taught, used the classroom materials to find his own success post-graduation.

“You’re often unaware of the impact you have, and to hear from a student that you played a part in helping them succeed — that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Giving back to students and helping them find their way is why we’re here.

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