Arthur Smith graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1959 and subsequently served six years on active duty with the navy. He qualified as officer of the deck in destroyers and then earned his wings as a naval aviator, achieving patrol plane commander status in both P5M and P3A anti-submarine aircraft. After leaving the navy, he earned a MA degree in comparative and International politics from the University of New Hampshire, followed by a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1970.
From 1970 through 2008, Dr. Smith made his career in academe. He began as an assistant professor of political science at Binghamton University, becoming chairman of the department in 1974 followed by promotions to the ranks of associate and then full professor. After serving Binghamton as provost for graduate studies and research and then as vice president for administration, he left in 1988 to become executive vice president and provost at the University of South Carolina (USC). He also served as interim president of USC from 1990-91, before becoming president of the University of Utah in 1991 and then chancellor/president of the University of Houston in 1997. He retired from university administration in 2003, and from 2003-08 he held the title of university professor at the UH main campus, teaching courses in his primary field of interest, Latin American politics.
Dr. Smith has served on the boards of directors of American Stores Company, Albertson’s, and First Security Bank of Utah, in addition to several non-profit organization boards. He and his wife June have been married for nearly 54 years and are avid duplicate bridge players. The couple has three children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.