Mechanical engineering senior Kirk P. Smith was awarded a 2017 Rhodes Scholarship — one of only 32 recipients in the nation.
Rhodes finalists are selected for their outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and potential career leadership. Scholars receive two years of full financial support to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Smith is a St. Louis, Mo., native and captain of the Golden Hurricane cross-country team. He is a Presidential Scholar, an inaugural member of TU’s Global Scholars program and a National Merit Scholar. He plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering science at Oxford.
As a scholarship recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), he was invited to participate in the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE Germany) program in the summer of 2016. He interned at Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt and assisted doctoral students with thesis research on polymeric solar thermal collectors.
During the past four years, Smith has pursued his interests in climate change and clean energy research while collaborating with faculty members and participating in the TU organization Sustaining Engineering for Needy & Emerging Areas (SENEA).
“Kirk’s research in Tulsa, Colorado and Germany is evidence of his creativity, collaborative skills and persistence,” said TU Provost Roger Blais. “His mentors testify to the depth and scope of his work and his readiness to take on graduate studies in any competitive setting.”
President Gerard Clancy said Smith’s honor is a momentous occasion for TU and the College of Engineering and Sciences. “He exemplifies the best of what TU seeks to inspire in each of its students: intellectual curiosity, integrity and service in a changing world.”
Smith is TU’s first Rhodes Scholar since 1988 and one of the shining reasons why TU is home to more nationally competitive award winners than all other Oklahoma colleges combined.
“Moving forward, I hope to enable increased usage of clean energy by developing cheap, large-scale energy storage systems,” Smith said. “By harvesting the power of the sun and the wind during off-peak times, utilities can buy low and sell high with stored energy and enable a clean energy economy.”
The Tulsa Regional Chamber’s diversity business council, Mosaic, recognizes TU as one of the region’s 2016 Top Inclusive Workplace Cultures. The honor is reserved for Tulsa-area employers with robust diversity and inclusion strategies. To earn the title of a Top Inclusive Workplace, an organization must meet certain criteria based on five key metrics: CEO commitment, diverse suppliers, people, internal policies and community outreach. TU is one of 55 organizations to receive a tiered ranking of three, four or five stars based on responses to Mosaic’s annual Inclusive Workplace Cultures survey.
“TU strives to provide an equitable and inclusive workplace environment that encourages all employees to embrace and value diversity,” said Jacqueline Caldwell, TU vice president for diversity and engagement. “Our welcoming community is one of the many reasons why TU is such a great place to work.”
TU is ranked among the top universities in the world by several prestigious higher education organizations: For a second year in a row, TU is named among the top 20 best small universities in the world by London-based Times Higher Education; listed as No. 86 (and the highest ranking university in Oklahoma) among national universities in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report; and featured in the Princeton Review’s The Best 381 Colleges and in the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named TU among the Top 300 Best College Values of 2017, and the website PayScale.com reports TU graduates are the highest earning at midcareer based on the 2016 College Salary Report. The Princeton Review’s release of Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck applauds TU as one of the nation’s best colleges for career preparation. The university’s low student-loan default rate is ranked No. 2 in Oklahoma by the website Student Loan Report and TU is designated as a 2017 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
The University of Tulsa Presidential Lecture Series will host Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo on Oct. 5, 2017, 7:30 p.m. at the Reynolds Center. Kidjo’s global sound draws on African traditions that mix with elements of American soul, funk, rap, jazz, Brazilian samba, Jamaican reggae and Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa.
The speaker series, sponsored by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair at TU, hosted investigative journalist and China specialist Evan Osnos on April 4. Novelist Dennis Lehane was the fall 2016 speaker on Sept. 29.