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President of Oklahoma's only HBCU to retire

Smith Family Final.jpg
Langston University
Langston University President Kent Smith (center) is pictured with his family. Smith recently announced he will retire from Langston in an open letter to campus.

The president of Oklahoma's only historically Black university will end his tenure leading the school after 11 years.

Langston University’s president Kent J. Smith recently wrote in an open letter to campus that he will depart from the university at the end of this spring’s semester.

Smith says he’s retiring from his 30-year-long career in education. He writes he recently accepted an offer to become a Chick-fil-A franchise owner and operator, to build “a legacy to leave for my five children and my grandson.”

"My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed the years spent at Langston University. My children have grown up on our campuses," he wrote. "In fact, my youngest son's middle name is Langston in honor of our great institution. We are blessed beyond measure to have been on this journey in service to our students and to the entire Langston University family."

The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents will conduct a national search for Smith’s successor.

The Oklahoman previously reported that Langston University recruited its seven largest freshman classes in the school’s history while Smith was president.

“We appreciate Dr. Kent Smith’s unwavering commitment to Langston University since he became President in 2012,” Jarold Callahan, Chair of the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma A & M System, said in a news release. “As Regents, we express our gratitude to Dr. Smith for his focus on student success and his advocacy for the important role Langston University plays in Oklahoma and the nation. We wish Dr. Smith and his family only the best in his retirement.”

Under Smith's tenure, Langston twice used millions in federal funds to cancel out outstanding balances its students incurred during the pandemic — first in the fall of 2021 and, most recently, last month.

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Xcaret Nuñez covered agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America from June 2022 to September 2023.
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