Former Tech President Ray Smith Addresses Graduates

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Michigan Technological University honored the achievements of nearly 1,000 graduates at Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 1. The ceremony coincided with Michigan Tech's Founder's Day, the date 125 years ago when legislation was signed to establish what was then the Michigan Mining School.

The University awarded 139 master’s and PhD degrees and 856 bachelor’s and associate degrees.

Ray Smith, who led Michigan Tech as its president from 1965 to 1979, addressed the graduates and received the University’s highest honor, the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction.

Smith came to Michigan Tech in 1959 to chair the Department of Metallurgical Engineering. Six years later, he was president. An enthusiastic promoter of the University who excelled in legislative affairs, he presided over a period of unprecedented growth. Ten major buildings were constructed during his watch, essentially sculpting the modern face of the Michigan Tech campus.

Smith is a fellow of both the American Society of Metals and the Metallurgical Society and is a recognized authority on minerals and metals. His research led to the development of some of the purest iron in the world.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and master’s and doctoral degrees in metallurgical and materials engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the US Army during World War II and later joined the staff of the Franklin Institute Research Laboratories, where he rose to the position of technical director before coming to Michigan Tech.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction recognizes individuals who have had an affiliation with the University and who have exhibited distinguished professional and personal accomplishments.  The Melvin Calvin Medal is named for its first recipient, Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin E. Calvin ’31, who won the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Andrew Benson).

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.