Ronald “Ron” Smit, who retired from the mathematics faculty in May 2005, passed away on February 20, 2018, in Vancouver, Washington, at the age of 77. Please join the University community at his Memorial Mass on Thursday, March 22 at 4:30 p.m., in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher. For questions, please contact campus ministry at x7131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron joined the UP faculty as an instructor in 1965 and was an assistant professor from 1969 to 1972, when he achieved the rank of associate professor. He earned the University’s highest faculty honor, the Culligan Award, in 1971. From 1970 to 1972 Ron was chair of the Academic Senate, and he served as chair of the mathematics department from 1974 to 1979. In 2009 the Ron Smit Senior Award in Mathematics was established by the mathematics department, awarded annually to a math major who makes a major contribution to UP’s mathematical community.
Ron Smit was an unfailingly congenial but sometimes curt man who expected nothing short of excellence (or at least earnest effort) from his students. He was renowned as a crack shot in the classroom, able to deliver a hunk of chalk to within centimeters of a sleeping or daydreaming student’s cranium with great precision. He loved the University wholeheartedly and was revered by his mathematics students. When he taught his final class in 2005, over 100 current and former students packed into his classroom, all wearing shirts with “Smittisms” printed on them: “Well, cover me in buttermilk,” or “Use a pencil. The last person who didn’t make a mistake lived 2,000 years ago,” or “Oh, nice of you to show up,” or “That’s a social sciences answer. Math is not a spectator sport.”
He is survived by his wife, Marti; sons Nick and Jeff, daughter Kathy, and 11 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our prayers and condolences to the family.