The Columns

A Distinguished Friend of Oxford University

— by on February 20th, 2015

“Honored, flattered and absolutely floored” is how Ralph Smith, a 1973 graduate of Washington and Lee University, described his reaction to being named a Distinguished Friend of Oxford University (DFO). The awards ceremony will take place in June.

In his congratulatory letter to Ralph, Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton noted that the DFO Award “was initiated in 1997 as a way to formally recognize individuals who have acted as exceptional volunteers for the benefit of the university, its colleges and departments.” Ralph was nominated in recognition of his “extraordinary support of the Rhodes Trust and the American Trust for Oxford.”

After graduating from W&L, Ralph attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, where he received an M.A. in politics, philosophy and economics. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School.

He has been an officer, director or trustee of numerous educational, charitable and civic organizations, including Rotary International and the Association of American Rhodes Scholars. He is the administrator of the Eastman Trust and the American Trust for Oxford University and is also responsible for the Rhodes scholarship selection process in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

In 2013, Ralph was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II to the Order of St. John, an Order of Chivalry of the British Crown, with historical roots in the 11th century Knights Hospitaller and Knights of Malta.

Ralph is president and CEO of The Ralph Smith Group, which provides management consulting services to business and higher education institutions worldwide. He is also special counsel to the law firm, Jones Walker L.L.P., in Birmingham, Alabama.