Audrey Smith, the university's vice president for human resources for the past seven years, has announced she will retire at the end of the fiscal year, ending a career in higher education administration that spans four decades.
Smith said she has been considering retirement "for quite a while" so as to pursue other interests precluded by her Hopkins responsibilities. The vice president said she wants to travel, spend more time with her family and engage in public service. She is announcing her June 30, 2003, departure now, she said, to allow time for a search and a smooth transition.
"This was a very difficult decision to make. My seven years at Hopkins have been very rewarding," Smith said. "I have had the opportunity to work with a very talented HR staff and colleagues who are among the brightest people in the world. I will miss them, but the timing is now right for me to turn the reins over to someone else."
James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration, said he accepted Smith's decision to retire with regret.
"This is a major loss for the university. Audrey has contributed marvelously during her tenure here," he said. "She has been extremely effective in delivering human resources services across the spectrum of activities for which she has been responsible. Of course, I respect her decision to spend time on other matters, but if I had my druthers, she would spend many more years at the post she has occupied with such professionalism."
McGill pointed to Smith's successful efforts to increase university focus on diversity issues, employee training and manager/supervisor development, all of which yielded tangible results.
Specifically, Smith helped put in place a JHU Managers and Supervisors Training Program and a policy that grants staff a minimum of three full days of training per year in areas of knowledge and skill relevant to their job duties and professional aspirations. Regarding the university's diversity efforts, McGill said Smith has made vital contributions in this area and was instrumental in the creation of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Smith said she is grateful to university leadership for having been given the opportunity to increase the breadth of human resources services at Hopkins.
"The support and confidence I have received from Jim McGill and President Brody have allowed me to grow both personally and professionally, and I am indebted to both of them," she said.
President Brody said Smith will leave behind a discernible legacy. "Audrey's initiatives have made a real difference for every one of us who works at Johns Hopkins University," Brody said. "We have been very lucky to have her here, and I, personally, feel very fortunate to have had her as a colleague."
Smith came to Johns Hopkins in 1995 from Princeton University, where she served for six years as vice president for human resources. She began her career at Brown University in 1972, and later worked at Montgomery College in Montgomery County, Md. Throughout her career, Smith has been known for her creative approaches to the concerns of minorities and of women. At Hopkins, she has been a member of the Diversity Leadership Council and the Provost's Committee on the Status of Women. She also has chaired a Business Process Improvement Committee task force that was established to improve mail services for the entire university and health system.
Smith, who grew up in Maryland and received her master's degree in general administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, said that for someone who never set out to have a higher education vocation, she can't imagine things having turned out any better for her.
"I have had a wonderful career in human resources, and the field will always be close to my heart, " Smith said. As to her retirement, Smith said she is excited about the opportunity to spend more time with her four grandchildren and aims to "just chill out" her first year.
"I plan to do some traveling, try my hand at gardening and sort out where I will devote my efforts in public service," she said.
McGill said details concerning a search for Smith's successor will be announced shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.