All totaled, Denise Smith devoted more than a third of her life to the University. As a student, she was a proud member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, maintaining her ties with the chapter long after receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1979. Following 12 years as the general manager of KMEM radio in Memphis, Mo., she returned to her alma mater as director of alumni relations.
During her nearly 18-year career, Smith worked tirelessly with the Alumni Board of Directors to create a nationwide network of Bulldogs. She was passionate in her efforts to ensure all alumni felt a genuine connection to the University. Because of her leadership, there are now 10 alumni chapters throughout the country, along with a handful of smaller alumni clubs. The University’s travel program has grown in popularity, visiting the likes of France, Scotland, London and, later this year, Iceland. Working in conjunction with the board, Smith helped institute National Truman Spirit Day, celebrated annually on the first Friday in October. Most recently, she was instrumental in establishing TruCare, a monthlong service initiative to inspire alumni to volunteer their time to charities in their communities.
Smith’s commitment to Truman was immeasurable. In addition to her duties as director of alumni relations, she served as the interim co-director of advancement from January 2016 until her untimely passing, Nov. 9, 2017. Although she is gone, the impression she left on the alumni and friends who knew her will not be forgotten.