Robert Smith Jr., professor of Christian preaching at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, has announced his intention to retire from full-time teaching at the end of the 2024 spring semester.
Douglas A. Sweeney, Beeson’s dean, released the news in an email to the school’s faculty and staff Nov. 2, then to alumni and friends Nov. 3, noting that the announcement comes with “confidence in the Lord and His leading” alongside a “heavy, heavy heart.”
“I don’t think a human being could love Beeson and its students any more than Dr. Smith does,” Sweeney wrote. “He doesn’t want to retire. But he thinks the time has come. He will continue to visit the campus and share fellowship with us for as long as he is able.”
Smith also will deliver the school’s Conger Lectures in the spring of 2026.
Long history of ministry
Smith — also a beloved preacher — has a long list of accolades and accomplishments from his years of ministry. He holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson and previously served as the Carl E. Bates Associate Professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
He also was named the 2017 E. K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference Living Legend. He received Southern Seminary’s 1996 Findley B. Edge Award for Teaching Excellence. An ordained Baptist minister, he served as pastor of the New Mission Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 20 years. He earned his Ph.D. while serving as a pastor.
“Please pray for Dr. Smith, and for Beeson, as we move forward,” Sweeney wrote. “We trust in God’s presence and provision for our school. But I know I speak for many when I say that Dr. Smith will be very sorely missed.”