Long-time University of Arkansas staff member and former assistant to the Dean of Students, Marilyn Smith was posthumously awarded the “Salute to Greatness” award at the 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Recommitment Banquet, held in January. The award celebrates the achievements and contribution she made not only to the University of Arkansas, but to the local community.

MarilynMarilyn passed away last spring after a long battle with breast cancer. Her son, William (Trey) Smith accepted the award in her honor.

“My family and I could not be more thrilled. I know that walking in that room [that night], surrounded by people who loved her so dearly, without her [was] really hard, but I’m okay with that because she deserved this one,” said Trey. “My mother left behind a legacy of service. She would help whoever with whatever, whenever.”

Throughout her over 40 years of working at the university, Marilyn became a source of comfort, happiness, and wisdom to her students and colleagues.

“Marilyn’s encyclopedic knowledge of our university was eclipsed only by her warmth and compassion,” said Melissa Harwood-Rom, University of Arkansas dean of students. “The number of students, parents, faculty, and staff that she impacted is inestimable. She was the heart, soul, and smiling face of the Dean of Students Office and the Division of Student Affairs.”

Not only did Marilyn impact student affairs, but the division played a role in her family’s life as well.

 “Student affairs advocated for me in a way that I didn’t think I could advocate for myself,” said Trey. “My mom was very big on honesty- she was an optimistic realist. Because of her role, she knew what dangers were happening on a college campus and wanted to educate me on them. We could trust each other.” 

Trey and MarilynMarilyn’s role in student affairs helped foster a newfound family which in turn embraced her own.

“Everyone in student affairs truly became a family for me,” Trey said. “They would buy entire rows to each of my drama performances and did not miss a single one.”

Throughout his collegiate career, Trey became involved as an orientation mentor as well as a R.O.C.K. Camp mentor as a way to share the insight his mother gave him. He served as a great student representative of New Student & Family Programs and the Division of Student Affairs throughout his college career, truly embodying what it means to be a servant leader and a role model for new students and his peer mentors alike.

“Trey was one of those student leaders who truly embodied the spirit of R.O.C.K. Camp and what it means to be a mentor,” said Matt Meyers, assistant director of new student programs, in the office of New Student & Family Programs. “He was authentic when sharing his experiences and advice, easy for new students to connect with, and truly passionate about helping new Razorbacks navigate and find their place on campus. He was also focused on helping them build self-confidence in themselves as students and learn how to succeed in college, which is a critical component of any great mentor relationship.”

Post-graduation Trey finds himself in lots of auditions and working the theater scene wherever he can.

Trey and Marilyn“I just recently finished an educational tour with TheatreSquared, where we took a show about Edgar Allen Poe to schools around Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri’” Trey said. “Up next I will be heading to Massachusetts in early March for the New England Theatre Conference. It’s pretty much a big audition where a lot of theatre companies come to one room and you audition for them all at the same time, and hopefully leave with a job. I’ve also submitted a couple of directing proposals, so it’s kind of just a waiting game right now.”

“Ultimately I plan to move to New York. I did a program there this summer, and promptly realized how expensive everything is, so I will be saving up, and finding 7 of my closest friends to live with,” Trey said, using his sense of humor to get through this time in his life. “I’m also interested in grad school at some point. I don’t know exactly where yet, but my mom told me I wasn’t allowed to go out of the country for grad school, so I will keep that in mind. That’s on down the road though, for right now I’m just trying to tell stories, and create.”