Honoring Rodney K. Smith

Rodney Smith

With heavy hearts, we mourn Dr. Rodney K. Smith, Director of the UVU Center for Constitutional Studies. He passed away on Sunday, July 26th after an eight-year battle with cancer.

Dr. Smith (Rod to his friends and colleagues) joined CCS as Director in 2016. In June 2020, he was selected as the Center’s inaugural David & Laurea Stirling Endowed Chair of Constitutional Studies. He gave his all to the Center and his colleagues here. He viewed our mission to increase constitutional literacy a personal vocation, and he pursued it vigorously.

Whether as a professor or mentor, Rod was a natural educator. His command of and passion for the subject matter and his genuine concern for each individual endeared him to his students for nearly four decades.

Dr. Smith was a renowned constitutional scholar, authoring six books, dozens of articles, and testifying before Congress during the Clarence Thomas U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. His work focused on the rights of conscience, especially the 16 words of the First Amendment that define religious liberty. He was a devotee of James Madison, publishing two books on the Father of the Constitution in the last two years. Drawing on his passion for athletics and his years as an NCAA basketball player, Rod also taught, studied, and wrote about sports law.

Additionally, Dr. Smith was a distinguished leader in higher education. He served as dean of three law schools and as president of Southern Virginia University. Before coming to CCS, he launched the highly successful Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

As a leader, scholar, teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend, Rod was distinguished by his integrity and goodness. He leaves a void in the lives of those who knew him that simply cannot be filled. We miss him dearly.

To honor Rod, the Center for Constitutional Studies has established the Rodney K. Smith Memorial Fund to advance the cause of constitutional literacy to which Rod dedicated the final chapter of his professional life.