Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SBU Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 19

Southwest Baptist University News Release
Contact: Sharina Smith, Office of Marketing & Communications
417-328-1803 /

BOLIVAR, Mo. –The Southwest Baptist University spring commencement is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Saturday, May 19, on the Merrill Burnidge Memorial Forum on the main campus in Bolivar. 

The commencement address will be given by Clifton M. Smart, interim president of Missouri State University. The Bob R. Derryberry senior address will be given by graduating senior Amanda Michelle Gilmore.

SBU President Dr. Pat Taylor and Provost Dr. William Brown will present the Life Beautiful and Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher awards.

Biography of Clifton M. Smart

On June 27, 2011, Clifton M. “Clif” Smart III was named interim president of Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield. Mr. Smart had served as general counsel at MSU since December 1, 2007.

Over the past three and one-half years at MSU, Smart provided legal counsel to the Board, president, faculty, staff and administrators. He also was involved in many campus-wide initiatives including leading the university response to the state auditor’s report on MSU; serving on the John Q. Hammons Arena Task Force; developing a comprehensive on-line library policy for the university; and chairing or serving on a variety of searches including vice president for diversity and inclusion, chief financial officer (twice), director of admissions, director of human resources and men’s basketball coach.

Smart received his Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University in 1983, graduating summa cum laude. In 1986, he graduated with a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law. While in law school, he received the Leflar Scholarship, was an Oxford Scholar and was on the Arkansas Law Review.

Smart joined the Strong Law Firm in 1992. He has been a shareholder in the firm since 1995 and vice president since 1998. Over the past 15 years, his practice consisted primarily of representing individuals and entities in catastrophic injury, medical malpractice and commercial cases.

Prior to joining the Strong Law Firm, he worked for two years with the firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock, Arkansas. From 1986-90, he was with the Judge Advocate Generals Corps in Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

Smart was selected as one of three applicants submitted to the governor for the vacant Missouri Supreme Court positions in 2002 and 2004. In February 2009, he was elected for a five-year term as one of the two lawyer members of the 31st Circuit Judicial Commission. Best Lawyers in America for 2007-08 included Smart in the fields of product liability, personal injury and professional negligence.

Smart and his wife, Gail, have two sons: Murray, graduating this month from SBU in Bolivar, and Jim, an incoming freshman at Hamilton College in New York.


Southwest Baptist University is a leader among private universities in truly integrating Christ-centered academic pursuits with comprehensive professional programs at an affordable price. At SBU, the faculty and staff create a caring, academic community to prepare students to be servant leaders in a global society. For more information, visit

SBU’s Office of Marketing and Communications is available to news media 24 hours a day at (417) 399-7918.