Award Winning Faculty: Dr. David Smith

October 22, 2023
faculty headshot with glasses

Dr. David Smith, Senior Lecturer in History, is no stranger to accolades, but his most recent honor caps off an extraordinary year of accomplishments and activity.

students in front of museum
Students and faculty visits Imperial War Museum.

Dr. Smith received the 2022-2023 Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching, one of three non-tenured faculty to earn this honor. He is a much-beloved instructor by majors and non-majors alike, in part because of his remarkable storytelling skills. When asked about his goals upon entering a classroom, Dr. Smith responded, “I hope to provide understanding; however, this really depends on the level of the class. . . . In a freshman-level class, I go in seeking to help them understand and hook them with the story, passion, and curiosity.” Dr. Smith teaches introductory-level courses like The United States in Global Perspective in addition to upper-level courses such as History of Warfare, American Military History, Global Maritime History, and History of the American Presidency.

That great teaching extended overseas this past summer. Dr. Smith designed a summer study abroad program around some significant sites for the United States in World War II. The group spent time in England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, with a highlight of the trip being a coastal tour of Normandy where students could see the site of the D-Day invasion for themselves after reading about it. He hopes to next take students to the Mediterranean theatre, exploring sites in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and southern France.

Book with captain on cover

Dr. Smith also published his fifth book this summer, A New Force at Sea: George Dewey and the Rise of the American Navy, released by the U.S. Naval Institute. One reviewer describes it as “the most comprehensive view of George Dewey to-date. . . . brisk and elegantly-written, precise in its analysis, and a resource both for serious and lay readers of naval history.” He has recently embarked on a biography of naval officer, historian, and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan.

The arts are another of Dr. Smith’s interests, both in and out of the classroom. The Waco community gets to hear regularly from Dr. Smith regularly on KWBU, our local NPR outlet, on “David and Art,” a 3-minute weekly feature about arts and culture. Additionally, he plays with a local jazz band and can be seen regularly performing around Central Texas.

A longtime Baylor History faculty member, David Smith combines excellent teaching with meaningful scholarship and local engagement. We feel fortunate to have him in the department, and we are grateful for the positive influence he is on our students and community.

Sic ‘em, Dr. Smith!