Henry Lewis Smith
President, Washington and Lee University, 1912–1929
Henry Lewis Smith was born in 1859 in Greensboro, N.C. He attended Davidson College and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Virginia in 1886. He taught at Davidson and became its president in 1901. Smith's administration saw growth in the number of academic departments, including the addition of accounting, statistics, education, psychology and journalism. The school also added a science building, a dormitory and faculty homes, and expanded athletic facilities. Growth in the endowment allowed for increased faculty salaries. Addressing academic standards, Smith also enforced the automatic rule, reducing the Class of 1916 from 68 to 28 students in just one year (1915). The mandatory, two-year physical-education requirement and the swim test were also implemented during his tenure. Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, was founded at W&L during Smith's presidency, and he was one of the first administrators to be inducted.
In 1918, during World War I, Smith received a $250 award from the National Security League for his suggestion to use small balloons to distribute information to the German population regarding America's war aims.
Smith was injured in an automobile accident in 1924. He retired in 1929.