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William A. Smith

William A. Smith, PhD

Academic Information

Departments Adjunct - Psychiatry

Academic Office Information

William A. Smith is a full professor and department chair of Education, Culture & Society at the University of Utah. He also holds a joint appointment in the Ethnic Studies Program (African American Studies division) as a full professor. In addition, he has served as the Associate Dean for Diversity, Access, & Equity in the College of Education (2007-2014) and a Special Assistant to the President as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative (2007-2013) at the University of Utah. Dr. Smith is the co-editor (with Philip Altbach & Kofi Lomotey) of the book, The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education: The Continuing Challenges for the 21st Century (2002). The 2nd Revised edition of The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education is scheduled for publication later this year with all-new chapters. In 2018, he received the College of Education’s Faculty Service Award for Outstanding Research & Scholarship. In 2020, Dr. Smith was awarded the Spencer Foundation’s Mentor Award and the University of Utah’s Distinguished Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholar Mentor Award.

In 2021, Dr. Smith was again awarded one of the University of Utah’s highest honors with the Distinguished Professor Award for Scholarly Research and the Black Faculty & Staff’s highest award, the James McCune Smith Award of Veneration. In addition, in 2011, the 12th District of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. awarded him its Omega Man of the Year. In 2021, they awarded him again its Founders Lifetime Achievement Award. Most recently, Living Color Utah honored Dr. Smith with its award in Education for people who have made it their mission to impact the areas of diversity. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on his theoretical and scholarly contributions of Racial Battle Fatigue (a concept he coined in 2003): the cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological, and behavioral effects of racial micro-level aggressions and macro-level aggressions (microaggressions and macroaggressions) have on racialized Targets of White Supremacy. He summarizes this definition by saying that it is a systemic race-related repetitive stress injury.

Dr. Smith’s work has appeared in such prestigious journals as The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of Negro Education, Harvard Educational Review, Educational Administration Quarterly, American Educational Research Journal, Race Ethnicity and Education, Journal of Minority Achievement, Creativity, and Leadership, Spectrum: The Journal of Black Males, and American Behavioral Scientist, to name a few. In addition, Dr. Smith is an internationally known scholar who is often sought out for keynote presentations and interviews. In the past two years alone, he has provided almost 100 keynote lectures, presentations, and interviews from South Africa to Australia and Fortune 500 companies in the US. Among his most influential presentations have been to the Utah Supreme Court Justices, the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy, and some of the US’s leading Colleges of Medicine (e.g., Cornell Weil Medical, University of Utah Medical, and the University of California-Riverside Medical). Additionally, he is one of the University of Utah’s most highly cited scholars (top 10 percent according to Google Scholar).

Dr. Smith received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University (BA in psychology and MS in counseling psychology). His Ph.D. is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (educational policy studies, sociology/social psychology of higher education).

Research Statement

In 2003, Dr. Smith was awarded the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to further develop his theoretical concept of Racial Battle Fatigue. Racial Battle Fatigue is an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that provides a clearer method for understanding the race-related experiences of People of Color. In general, Racial Battle Fatigue explains how the social environment (e.g., institutions, policies, practices, traditions, groups and individuals) perpetuates race-related stressors that adversely affect the health and academic achievement of Students of Color and the health, professional productivity, and retention among Faculty of Color. Whether it is from the constant stereotyping that Students of Color face on campus or the epistemological racism that Faculty of Color endure as they seek tenure and promotion, People of Color are chronically having race-related stress-responses in historically white institutions and environments that consumes valuable time and energy. Dr. Smith's fellowship year (2003-2004) was also spent working on collaborative projects at the UCLA with Dr. Walter R. Allen and Dr. Daniel Solórzano. Professor Smith's additional research interests are inter-ethnic relations, racial attitudes, racial identity & socialization, academic colonialism, affirmative action attitudes, and the impact of student diversity on university and college campuses.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Rodrguez Jos E (11/02/2021). Towards a common lexicon for equity, diversity, and inclusion work in higher education.
  2. Yosso Tara J (10/01/2021). A critical race theory test of WEB DuBois’ hypothesis: Do Black students need separate schools?. , 1-19. Race Ethn Educ, 1-9.
  3. Amoakoh Josephine (08/26/2020). “‘Diamonds on the Sole of Their Boots’: The Experiences of African Immigrant Men in STEM Careers in the USA.”. 8, 29–53.
  4. William A Smith (08/25/2020). The Impact of Racial Microaggressions Across Educational Attainment for African Americans. 1, 70-93.
  5. Hung M (02/2020). Exploring Student Achievement Gaps in School Districts across America: The Case for Investigating Opportunity Gaps. Educ Urban Soc.
  6. Nicole A Corbin (05/14/2018). Trapped between justified anger and being the strong Black woman: Black college women coping with racial battle fatigue at historically and predominantly White institutions. 31(7), 626-643.
  7. Brian A Burt (04/03/2018). Into the storm: Ecological and sociological impediments to Black males’ persistence in engineering graduate programs. Am Educ Res J.
  8. William A Smith (11/17/2016).
  9. William A Smith (09/14/2016). "You Make Me Wanna Holler and Throw Up Both My Hands!": Campus Culture, Black Misandric Microaggressions, and Racial Battle Fatigue. 29, 1189-1209.
  10. William A Smith (06/01/2016). Understanding the corollaries of offensive racial mechanisms, gendered racism, and racial battle fatigue.
  11. William A Smith (03/20/2015).
  12. William A Smith (03/2015).
  13. Jeremy Franklin (03/2015).
  14. Jeremy Franklin (07/03/2014).
  15. Franklin J D (07/03/2014). Racial Battle Fatigue for Latina/o Students: A Quantitative Perspective. 13(4), 303-322. (Read full article)
  16. William A Smith (03/01/2012). Between hope and racial battle fatigue: African American men and race-related stress. 2, 35-58.
  17. William A Smith (01/01/2011).
  18. (2009).
  19. Smith W A (12/2007).
  20. Smith W A (12/2007).
  21. Smith William A (12/01/2007). "Assume the Position . . . You Fit the Description": Psychosocial Experiences and Racial Battle Fatigue Among African American Male College Students. 51(4), 551-578. (Read full article)
  22. Smith W A (12/01/2007). Racial Primes and Black Misandry on Historically White Campuses: Toward Critical Race Accountability in Educational Administration. 43(5), 559-585. (Read full article)
  23. Smith W A (12/2006).
  24. Smith P (11/2005).
  25. Smith P (11/01/2005). Experiencing Community Through the Eyes of Young Female Offenders. 21(4), 364-385. (Read full article)
  26. Smith W A (01/1998).


  1. Smith WA (06/06/2016).

Book Chapter

  1. William A Smith (06/08/2020). Racial battle fatigue: The long-term effects of racial microaggressions on African American boys and men. In Michigan State University Press. Michigan State University Press.
  2. William A Smith (06/08/2020). Racial battle fatigue: The long-term effects of racial microaggressions on African American boys and men. In Michigan State University Press (pp. 83-92). Michigan State University Press.
  3. William A Smith (03/2020). Racial violence and stress in postsecondary institutions of higher education. Sage Publications.
  4. William A Smith (12/06/2019). Foreword. Routledge.
  5. William A Smith (01/15/2015).
  6. William A Smith (11/14/2014).
  7. (03/14/2010).
  8. (2008).
  9. (2008).
  10. Phillip J Bowman (03/14/2002). Racial ideology in the campus community: Emerging cross-ethnic differences and challenges. In SUNY Press (pp. 103-120). SUNY Press.