Heather Smith, professor of geography, interim chair of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences and Levine Scholars faculty fellow, has been appointed faculty director of the Levine Scholars Program, effective July 1, 2023. She succeeds Diane Zablotsky, who will return as a faculty member to the Department of Sociology.
Smith served as the director of the Ph.D. Geography Graduate Program and director of the Urban Studies Minor prior to her appointment as interim chair of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences when department Chair Deb Thomas was named interim associate vice chancellor of the University Division of Research and Economic Development. As the Levine Scholars Program faculty fellow, Smith supports three of the program’s core areas: civic engagement, research and study abroad.
“Heather has provided exceptional support to the Levine Scholars Program and its scholars for more than a decade,” said Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “As an effective leader and mentor, I am confident she will continue to make a significant impact on the program, while preparing scholars as leaders with a commitment to their communities.”
Smith’s research focuses on globalization, urban restructuring, immigrant settlement and socio-spatial inequality. As a community engaged scholar, her work often involves the building of interdisciplinary and interinstitutional partnerships with colleagues across campus and throughout the Charlotte region.
In 2005, Smith, along with Owen Furuseth and Michael Dulin, co-founded the Mecklenburg Area Partnership for Primary Care Research, which sought to understand and address primary care needs of disadvantaged communities in the greater Charlotte area.
A Morehead Scholar, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from UNC-Chapel Hill. She earned a master’s degree in geography from Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada and her doctorate degree in geography from the University of British Columbia. Smith was the 2017 recipient of the Harshini V. De Silva Graduate Mentor Award and received the 2014 Provost’s Faculty Award for Community Engagement.
Established in 2009 through a gift from The Leon Levine Foundation, the Levine Scholars Program offers standout high school students committed to academic achievement, leadership and community service a four-year scholarship to Charlotte. The scholarship covers tuition, housing, meals, books and mandatory fees. Beyond the financial award, Levine Scholars benefit from study abroad opportunities, professional networking, personalized mentorship, priority course registration and professional development resources. A unique feature of the program is the community service grant that each scholar receives to create a positive impact in the Charlotte community.