Welcome to Arkansas State University!

May 2023

The PROPS program includes a monthly profile of an A-State staff member that works every day behind the scenes to improve Arkansas State University… because EVERY Red Wolf Counts!

Staff members are selected from a pool of candidates that is created from the PROPS nomination form.

Mike Smith

Mike Smith.jpg

Mike Smith was nominated by Lisa Glasco and Victoria Shann for P.R.O.P.S. recognition. Lisa said “Mike makes my job so much easier. He's a fast learner, willing to learn and will take charge of any situation before him. Mike is a people person and loves to socialize with the campus departments. He's only been at A-State for a few years but it seems a lot longer. He makes the campus departments feel at ease and they trust him. Trust makes a great coworker and employee.” Victoria Shann said, “Mike is an absolute joy to work with. When I first started at A-State, Mike got so many calls/emails from me because I had no idea what I was doing. But no matter how many times I bother him, even for the silliest questions, he is patient and kind and always happy to help. He is great at what he does and if he can't help, he knows who can.”

P.R.O.P.S. subcommittee members LaVonda Evans, Tiffany Mosley, Karen Nelson, and Greg Umhoefer spoke with Mike recently to learn more about him and his experience at A-State. 

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

Gosh, there are a lot of places I would like to go. If I had to narrow it down, it would be Germany. My dad was in the military, in the army, so I actually lived in Germany when I was a little bitty kid, but I don’t remember any of it, I just remember the stories. So, just to get a feel for their culture and to see a lot of their history, I think I’d like to see Germany.

What is one thing you’ve learned that you would tell your younger self?

Oh wow! Ok. Let me try to narrow this down. Just keep your eye on the goal. Don’t get distracted by all the obstacles that come your way. Just continue to work hard and focus on the main goal.

What is your favorite motion picture?

I have a few of them, but I always go to Gladiator. I love the movie! It’s like, you’re on top of the world and then the rug gets pulled out from under you and you hit rock bottom, but you claw your way back up to the top for revenge. I love that story line – over throwing the man!

What is your favorite vacation spot?

I do love the beach, but I will have to say by a small margin, I like the mountains a little bit better. My wife, I don’t know if I’ll be able to ever to take her back to Colorado, but last spring break, we went to Colorado and went skiing. We brought our kids too, of course, that was their first time flying in an airplane and snow skiing and all that good stuff. It was a great vacation. We had a lot of fun skiing, but just being in the cabin with snow everywhere outside. The hot tub, the fireplace, just that Colorado vibe was very cool. Favorite vacation spot so far is the Rocky Mountains.

What do most people not know about you?

I hate these questions! (laughs) There is so much you all don’t know about me. Now, what do I want you to tell you. If you do know me by more than emailing or work-related stuff, you know that I’m a sports fanatic. A lot of people on campus don’t know that I love sports, but if you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you would know that. One thing no one knows about me is that I love chess. I play chess online. I don’t claim to be any good at it, but I started playing about three years ago and I’m obsessed with it. Trying to see all the moves before they happen. So yes, sports and chess. 

If you could have another career, what would it be and why?

Gosh, I was so close to becoming a teacher and a coach. I would definitely have to say in another career, or if I could just go back, because it’s not all about the money to me. I would be a high school football coach. At the time, I kind of freaked out about teaching, I didn’t want to do the teaching or deal with high school kids, but now, I teach the training classes for P-card and requisitions and I’ve really grown to like the teaching part of it. I know it’s easier when you are dealing with adults, and everyone getting out of the office, so it’s a good vibe anyway, but I definitely think I could have done the high school teaching. I would teach history or algebra. And I’m so passionate about sports and coaching. Ever since my kids were three years old, I coached their soccer, and now I coach baseball, basketball, and football. Sometimes I try to sit out from coaching, and just be a fan, but they keep dragging me back in like “Mike, we need you!” I coach from the sidelines and it was tough to sit in the crowd and just watch.

What is the one thing you wish you could teach everyone about your role on campus?

We are the rule enforcers. We are like the finance police. When we call or e-mail, it’s not because we are picky or crabby, it’s because we are trying to make sure the university remains compliant. Being primarily a state-funded institution, there are so many rules and laws to follow. I’ve been in this role for four years now, and there are so many different ways to get yourself in a bind or get in trouble with the state. Procurement services requests all the information and denies requisitions to make sure we are following all the procurement laws and keeping the institution in good standing financially. It’s not that just “well, we need this form, or we need that form”, there is a reason for it, and we are in an excellent standing. We are used as an example university for other universities who are not on track.

What is your vision for the future?

I’m working on my Master’s in Business Administration. My vision would be to move into more of a leadership role within the finance and administration department. I feel that is where my strengths are found. Whether it’s procurement or another area, I feel like I’m a good motivator and good listener and I think I can use those qualities to move the department into a better place. Using analytics and streamlining everything to increase productivity and overall job satisfaction. That’s where I see myself – a leadership role elevating my department.

What is it you like most about A-State?

I like the people. That’s probably a cliché answer, but everyone says it because it’s true. I enjoy that I get to do the trainings. I love the interaction and watching people learn and get better in their area. I’m proud to say that I work here at A-State. I commute back and forth from Pocahontas every day and if I run into someone in my community that I haven’t spoken to in a while they’ll ask what are you doing now? Well, I’m proud to say that I am at A-State. I love all the benefits of working here. That Christmas break is like nothing else. Being able to have that time off and spend it with my family. And I enjoy my time at work, meeting new people, building new and valuable friendships around campus, and I just want to make more of them.

What makes a good university?

The primary goal of the university, in my eyes, is to educate and produce individuals who can go out and make a difference in the world.