Announcing the New Dean of DFC

One of the nation’s leading scholars on equity and diversity in higher education has been appointed as the next dean of Dougherty Family College (DFC) at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota – and she’s already a familiar face.

Executive Vice President and Provost Eddy Rojas shared the following in an email to the University of St. Thomas community on May 11, 2022.

It's with great pleasure I report that Dr. Buffy Smith has accepted our offer to become dean of the Dougherty Family College. Dr. Smith has been with DFC since its inception in 2016. She started as founding associate dean and brought to life the vision of this two-year college that creates opportunities for ambitious underrepresented students.  

Serving as interim dean for the last two years, Dr. Smith has proven she's the leader DFC needs in its next phase. Under her leadership, Dougherty Family College has weathered the challenges of the pandemic, hired a team that consists of 50% people of color, expanded its community partnerships to reach a greater number of prospective students and created more paid internship opportunities for scholars. She also set the strategy that allowed DFC to surpass this year’s $3 million fundraising goal, raising $6.8 million to help remove financial barriers for scholars.  

Dr. Smith’s research in how colleges and universities can create life-changing opportunities by helping underserved students navigate higher education was foundational to creating the DFC educational model. A sociologist, she’s an expert on the research-backed best practices and structure that celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our DFC scholars and helps them achieve success.  

Dr. Smith has been with St. Thomas for more than 18 years, starting as professor of sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences in 2004. Those who have had the pleasure of encountering her in recent years have experienced her deep commitment to DFC and its scholars, referring to them as “family.” She's earned her reputation as one of DFC's most trusted and tireless champions.  

Her ability to inspire and her strong track record developing community partnerships, rallying financial support and leading a diverse and inclusive team will serve the college well as she assumes the position of dean starting July 1, 2022. We are excited Dr. Smith's gifts and talents will continue to be shared at St. Thomas as DFC continues to mature as a college.   

I extend my gratitude to our search committee for their many hours of hard work guiding this process, which has culminated in the selection of an outstanding candidate. I give special thanks to the committee co-chairs: Clinical Faculty in the Psychology Department, Dr. Noah Gagner, and Vice President and Morrison Family College of Health Dean Dr. MayKao Hang.