Spartans of UD: Dick Smith
Nov 6, 2019
Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus.
Dick Smith is an associate professor of mathematics. He is transitioning into a new role on campus that will allow him to focus more on mentoring students.
1. You taught mathematics at UD for over 15 years. What drew you to mathematics?
“I was inspired by my grandmother who loved mathematics. As a preschooler, she drilled me on my facts and other algorithms. She wrote on large pieces of freezer paper and I was timed. I grew to be intrigued by relationships between algebra and geometry. I like to draw connections between branches of mathematics that are seen by some to be separate from each other. To me mathematics is a beautiful, useful and ‘fun’ part of my life. Sometimes it calls me in the middle of the night.”
2. What do you enjoy most about your new role on campus that allows you to mentor students?
“I am meeting lots of interesting young people. I am available to them when they are confused about life. This confusion can be in the areas of their academic, social, and relationship life. No issue will shock me and no issue will cause me to judge them. Our conversations are confidential. My role is to journey with them as they find solutions on their road of life. We all need support.
“My wife, Joyce, and I get up each morning and allow ourselves to be open to help fellow human beings we meet on their journey through life. We have met so many people who are now our friends. Our lives have been helped and enriched by people that we have met. Most of our ‘ministry’ is not planned. God does the planning. We just go wherever we are led.
“This ‘new’ role of mine is really not ‘new.’”
3. What advice do you have for students?
“I hope that students can achieve balance in their lives. We each need to find time to feed our mind, our body, and our social life. The need for studying will never leave our life. Our careers require us to continue to learn and continue to learn to work together.”
4. You are known for your jokes. What is the number one joke you like to tell students? Why?
“I have a story: My friend lost his job in Florida at an orange juice plant. He was squeezed out of his job. He was canned. He was told that he couldn’t continue to concentrate. He was tempted to beat his boss to a pulp, but his attorney told him that they would just appeal. Orange you glad I told you this story?
“I loved this joke because it has lots of parts and lots of puns.”
5. What is your favorite spot on campus?
“I love any place on campus where people gather. I am a social person. I am fascinated about the diversity of God’s people. We are all so DIFFERENT and we need to celebrate and talk about those differences. We are all so much the SAME and we are challenged to notice that each of us has so much worth. I love to share my life with other people. This is why I was given the gift of life.”