Dr. Leonard A. Smock retires as director of VCU Rice Rivers Center
December 1, 2016
In 1979, Dr. Leonard A. Smock joined the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University as an assistant professor in the Department of Biology. His thought was to stay for a “little while” at VCU; that “little while” spanned 37 ½ years.
Dr. Smock began his journey as a student at the University of Illinois, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biology and Zoology. He continued on to receive his doctoral degree from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. It was then he made his way to Richmond, Virginia, to join the faculty at VCU.
He soon rose to the rank of professor, and served as the Department of Biology’s chairman from 1990 to 2009. In 2005, Dr. Smock became the first director of the Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences, VCU’s environmental field station on the James River in Charles City County. Also known as the Rice Rivers Center, this ecologically rich, approximately 500-acre site provides VCU faculty and students a place to conduct research, education and outreach activities. Dr. Smock served as the director of the Rice Rivers Center until July 1, 2016. Since then, Dr. Smock has remained active at the Rice Rivers Center and plans to stay connected after his official retirement on January 1, 2017.
Looking back on his career, Dr. Smock remarked, “Being a part of the faculty at VCU has been a wonderful experience. I am thankful VCU allowed me to teach the classes that aligned with my interests, and to conduct the research I wished to pursue. I enjoyed interacting with everyone in biology, life sciences and throughout the university. I look forward to continuing to be involved at the Rice Rivers Center as it grows into a world-class, fully-immersive research facility.”
Dr. Smock established and was the initial director of the Ph.D. program in Integrative Life Sciences and served as the Interim Vice Provost for VCU Life Sciences and Research. He was the former president of the North American Benthological Society, the foremost scientific society focused on the ecology and assessment of streams and rivers. In addition, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a council member for the American Institute of Biological Sciences.