In his more than 50 years at La Salle University, psychology professor Jack Smith, Ed.D., has seen many changes—from war times, to women being admitted on campus, to increases to La Salle’s campus footprint. However, one thing that remained the same is Smith’s dedication to the fields of psychology and counseling, and to his students. Now at 81 years old, Smith has retired from La Salle.
A 1957 graduate of La Salle, Smith returned to his alma mater in 1960, after earning his master’s in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University, to work in the University’s then new Student Counseling Center, before joining the psychology department full-time. “Brother Vincent Grimes, founder of the psychology department, made the work sound so interesting, I couldn’t refuse the offer to return to La Salle,” said Smith. “Not to mention, I would get to work with my former professors Tom McCarthy and Jack Rooney.”
Over the years, Smith had a hand in developing or overseeing almost every program in La Salle’s Psychology Department. “He has been a strong force in the current master’s program in clinical counseling psychology as well as the earlier pastoral counseling program where he served as the director of the program and as director of the community clinic,” said Jack Rooney, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and assistant director of the master’s program in clinical counseling psychology, who was a former professor and later colleague of Smith’s.
“He was the main force in starting the family and marriage therapy program at La Salle, and several of his former students have attained prominence in this profession. He also played a major role in developing the doctoral program in clinical counseling psychology and served as its first director,” said Rooney.
In addition to his many roles in the psychology department, Smith also served for two years as soccer coach. “During the Vietnam War years, there was a lot of unrest among the students, and sports was diversion of sorts for some of the male students,” explained Smith. The team had such a following that the University soon started an official team.”
Smith, who resides in the Northeast section of Philadelphia with his wife Florence, greatly enjoyed his time in the classroom. “I especially enjoyed teaching adult students because not only did they gain from the skills taught in class, but they also brought with them their own life experiences that added special meaning to the process. It was a truly collegial experience,” said Smith.
A licensed psychologist, Smith often used his clinical experiences in the classroom, allowing students to develop a stronger connection to the profession. “Jack is best known as a teacher and a common-sense mentor that former students remember with affection,” said Rooney.
“I have been very fortunate to have such a long career at La Salle. I could not have done without the influences of my long-time colleagues, especially Brother Joe Burke, Chair of the Psychology Department, Tom McCarthy, my Director at the Counseling Center, and most especially Jack Rooney—my leader in many endeavors and through it all a valued friend and colleague who was always there for me.” said Smith. “I have enjoyed the ride.”