BaShaun Smith is a relationship builder. Just ask his wife, Chauncey, he said. When the Smiths are at a grocery store, BaShaun will stop and chat with random people about apples for 5 minutes.
That kind of personability is part of the reason BaShaun Smith is such a good fit for his new role as associate vice president and dean of students at Miami University.
Smith officially started on Aug. 21, and the Cleveland native was so excited to begin the job that he and his family arrived early in Oxford, staying in temporary housing so Smith could be ready for the start of the new academic year.
“I was really drawn to the personal touch that Miami has,” Smith said. “I’d always heard great things about the university through colleagues, friends, and peers.”
Smith even thought about attending Miami as a student, but his high school football coach and guidance counselor were both big fans of Bowling Green University, which helped direct him toward his eventual alma mater.
After graduating from Bowling Green with a History major and minor in Political Science, Smith earned a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from the University of Dayton in 2012.
He comes to Miami from Western Carolina University, where he served as dean of students.
“BaShaun has great experience that will enable him to bring fresh eyes to this dean of students role,” said Jayne Brownell, senior vice president for Student Life. “We were struck by his energy, enthusiasm, and love of students.”
Brownell noted the connections Smith made before even officially starting at Miami.
“That’s what I hope for in a dean of students,” Brownell said. “Someone who can relate to students but who also has the ability to be serious and deep and hold students accountable. I think he will be able to do all parts of that.”
Serving students is Smith’s main focus, but he also looks at how best to serve the larger community.
After meeting with a contingent of Miami students during the interview process, Smith was impressed that they thought about how things impacted not only them but also the effect outside of Oxford.
“They were thinking about others,” Smith said. “I want to make sure I’m doing my job and serving students as best as possible.”
Loyalty is another trait Smith values, and one he exhibits in his love of a particular football team.
Don’t judge him, Smith cautions, even in the heart of Cincinnati Bengals country.
“One thing I say is, I’m a loyal person. I’ve been a Cleveland Browns fan for over 30 years,” Smith said with a laugh.
All kidding aside, Smith felt an instant connection to Miami when he talked with people over Zoom. It only deepened once he visited campus.
He had heard about the “aura of Miami” at professional conferences.
“They said they couldn’t explain it, but once you are there, you understand,” Smith said. “If there is a scale of 1-10 for my excitement level, I’m probably at 100.”