Rick Kaplan, a longtime television producer for CBS, CNN and ABC once said, Wearing a bow tie is a statement almost an act of de ance.
For Phil Smith, the Associate University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life at Elon, his daily act of wearing a bow tie around campus isnt necessarily an act of de ance, but rather a means of identi cation amid a school of noticeable administrators and faculty.
It became an identi er, Smith said. If nothing else, if they dont remember my name, theyll remember me as the bow tie guy.
Smith, who came to Elon in the fall of 2006, after 12 years of ministry with youth and young adults, has become much more than the bow tie guy throughout his tenure. Serving as the Director of Religious Life, Smith runs the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, used for planning and directing religious events throughout campus during the year. Various events, such as weekly College Chapel, the Holiday Luminary Celebration and Hometown Heroes an event celebrating the lives of people who inspire others and make their communities stronger are run through the Truitt Center annually.
In addition to working in the Truitt Center, Smith is involved in many endeavors throughout campus, including an advisory role with Habitat for Humanity, a high ropes facilitator for the Elon Challenge Course and an instructor within the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program.
I try to be very visible and be involved in a bunch of different areas around campus without being isolated, Smith said. It has proven to be very rewarding and has allowed me to enhance relationships with students.
With his calm and quiet demeanor, he has become a leader on Elons campus through his impactful relationships with students and faculty alike.
Being an involved, committed community member is so important to me, Smith said. I think that leads to recognitionpeople see you as a leader because they see you period.
Looking at his legacy so far at Elon, Smith wants to be
known as someone that made a difference for the individual.To know that among the university, there would be
individuals passing through that I had an important role in their development is critically important to me, Smith said.
Personally, Smith sees it of utmost importance that his job title calls to be a supportive presence on campus. Students should be given the chance to lead, even if they make mistakes. If administrators and adults spoon-feed their students, then there is no way a student can learn from their mistakes, Smith said.
Being an avid North Carolina Tar Heels fan, Smith sees legendary basketball coach Dean Smith as a leader who has inspired him. Dean Smith coached the Tar Heels for 36 years, amassing almost 900 wins. He approached coaching not with wins and losses, but with leading student-athletes to develop their skills and become better athletes and people, Smith said.
He focused on the task at hand, without looking at the end result, Smith said. That type of leadershipone step at a timeis necessary to grasp the meaning of the tasks.
In his early days at Elon, Smith said he got chastised a little bit for his af nity for the Tar Heels. He was told early on that he was at Elon and had to embrace the Phoenix. Smith enjoys Saturday afternoons in the fall when he can see the Phoenix compete in Rhodes Stadium. He also enjoys road trips and seeing the Phoenix play throughout the Southeast.
Smith, who has been at Elon for a relatively short time, attributes the success and growth of the university to its various leaders.
Longevity of leadership has been important at Elonyou can feel it in the stability we have as a university, Smith said.
While he has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Elon, Smith looks toward the future when he can help the university ourish even more.
I felt called to this place and really love it here, Smith said. To be part of something great is very exciting, and planning for what the future has in store for this university has also been exciting.
Story By Jack Rodenfels
MORE THAN JUST THE BOW TIE GUY
GET TO KNOWPhi l Smith
Arrived at Elon in 2006
Hometown: Durham, NC
To whom much is given, much is required.
Birthday is on a Leap Year
Owns more than 50 bow ties
63 // e Legacies of Elons Leaders