Craig Smith Honored With Graduate Research Award

From left: John Leatherman, award recipient Craig Smith and his wife, Cari

Congratulations to Craig Smith, winner of the Graduate Research Assistant of the Year! Smith is graduating this month with his Ph.D. in agricultural economics.

Dr. John Leatherman, professor of agricultural economics, nominated Smith for the award, which is given by the Golden Key International Honour Society of Kansas State University.

Below are remarks Leatherman made during the award presentation.

Remarks from Dr. John Leatherman

First, I’d like to congratulate all of the nominees in this year’s competition. You should feel proud that one of your professors thought so highly of you as to have nominated you as GTA or GRA of the Year. I’m sure there are many here who are equally worthy of this award.

This is the first time I have nominated a student as GRA of the Year. It’s not that I haven’t worked with many fine students in the past, many of whom have gone on to successful careers for which I feel some sense of contribution. It’s just that Craig has so surpassed the threshold of high expectation that I felt compelled to seek this recognition on his behalf.

It’s not due to his stellar academic record, which is simply expected. It’s not even because of his awesome record of productivity that would already get him a positive mid-tenure review at most universities.

Where I think Craig really has distinguished himself is with his capacity to elevate the level of performance of all those around him. For no group is this been truer than for the faculty in our department who clamor for the opportunity to work with Craig. They have routinely reported to me that Craig is unlike other graduate students with whom they work. Craig is always a co-equal collaborator bringing ideas and energy to the table. He is always a partner in problem solving and has the capacity and energy to move the project forward. Once having decided the next step, Craig then comes back having taken the analysis two or three iterations further. Had I not written Craig’s nomination, another half dozen of our faculty to have happily taken my place.

I have had the joy and honor to have worked with Craig for nearly 10 years now, through two advanced degrees and as a partner in my Extension outreach program. In June, Craig will move on to new professional challenges. For the time that I have had to work closely with you, Craig, thank you. You have helped me to do some of my best work. I will sorely miss seeing you, spending time with you, and doing good things together as we have.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the role and contribution played by Craig’s wife, Cari Smith. At every step along the way, Craig was foremost concerned about how his next endeavor would affect the welfare of his family in the present and the future. Had he not had the support, stability, and love of his family, he would not be here today. Thank you, Cari.

Congratulations to you, Craig. You are, indeed, worthy of being named Graduate Research Assistant – No, make that Graduate Research Partner of the Year.


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