Trumbull professor found dead

Ben Breier

The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified the body of a man who hung himself on Kent State’s Trumbull Campus as 55-year-old English professor Michael Rick Smith, as reported by the Warren Tribune Chronicle.

The campus cleaning staff found Smith’s body early Sunday night hanging from a belt tied to a tree.

Trumbull Campus Associate Dean Robert Sines has known Smith since he arrived at the Trumbull Campus in 1996. He described him as a thoughtful, kind and generous individual.

“He interacted with students very well — they enjoyed his classes,” Sines said. “He was very demanding.”

Sines said Smith had taught a class in an earlier summer session but was not teaching any classes at the time of his death. Smith was slated to teach British literature in the fall, as well as three other classes from the English sequence.

Gary Ciuba, English coordinator at Kent State Trumbull, said he experienced a profound sadness when he learned what had happened to his colleague.

“Rick was an extremely passionate individual. He was very animated in the classroom and a zealous advocate for faculty rights,” Ciuba said. “He was a champion of the right for students to get the best possible education — especially non-traditional students.”

Ciuba said the range of Smith’s intellect covered more than English – he was also fascinated with botany and automobiles.

“It was amazing what this man knew,” he said.

Smith also served as the Trumbull Campus faculty chairperson for two years, where he represented Trumbull at the regional campus gathering of faculty chairs.

Above all, Ciuba said Smith will be remembered for his gentleness and generosity.

“It was not uncommon for him to go out of his way to give books to students and work with students in large amounts of time in his office,” Ciuba said. “There were no limits to his time.”

Contact managing editor Ben Breier at [email protected].