Joianne Smith

2020-21 Aspen New Presidents Fellow
President Joianne L. Smith leads Oakton Community College with a vision rooted in equity and compassion, guided by a passion to support students along their paths to academic and personal success.

Smith’s presidency began July 1, 2015, following 13 years of service in leadership roles at Oakton, including as dean of students (2002-2004) and vice president for student affairs (2005-2015).

Under Smith’s leadership, Oakton adopted a new strategic plan entitled “Success Matters” and redefined the college’s mission, vision, and values. These efforts shaped the college’s collective vision to support students by incorporating new strategies to ensure learning, persistence, and attainment. Significant progress has been made toward improving student persistence rates, in accordance with ambitious goals set forth by Smith.

Smith prioritizes an institution-wide commitment to equity, focused on reducing opportunity and attainment gaps for historically underserved student groups. Oakton joined the Illinois Equity in Attainment partnership in 2019, which is the signature initiative of the Partnership for College Completion. As part of a multiyear Facilities Master Plan adopted in 2017, significant facilities upgrades have been completed at both the Des Plaines and Skokie campuses, creating contemporary teaching and learning spaces that improve the Oakton experience for students and employees.

Prior to Oakton, Smith served as assistant director of university residence life at Northwestern University (2001-2002), dean of Brainerd Commons at Middlebury College (1999-2001), and a licensed psychologist, a license she still maintains in the state of Illinois. Smith earned her B.A. in psychology and religion from Wittenberg University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.

President Smith is an active resident of the district Oakton serves, serving on the NorthShore
University Skokie Hospital Community Advisory Committee and the AMITA Health Holy Family Medical Center Community Leadership Board.