Dr. Travis C. Smith earned a Ph.D in the Educational Leadership in Higher Education at Clemson University. As a critical scholar, he chooses to focus on inquiry, practice, and pedagogy that helps disrupt oppressive systems in order to support racially minoritized students. His research agenda is centered in Black student involvement, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Black education, and graduate Students of Color. Some of his previous work utilizes a variety of methodological qualitative approaches such as phenomenology, photo-elicitation, photovoice, and critical participatory action research. Travis’ work can be found in the Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, The Bulletin, The Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, and The Journal of Student Affairs. Travis is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Student Personnel in Higher Education program at the University of Florida. He ultimately hopes to become a university president of an HBCU.

Dr. Smith first fell in love with higher education while attending Alabama State University. There he was involved in several student organizations such as SGA, NAACP, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and the Golden Ambassadors. These student organizations afforded him the opportunity to serve others and allowed me to grow as a student, a leader, and a Black man. In 2011, he founded Unite Inc. which is a nonprofit that promotes leadership, scholarship, and social awareness. Unite Inc., currently serves the community through two initiatives: college preparation (high school juniors and seniors) and a freshmen retention program at Alabama State University. Unite Inc., allows Travis to serve his life’s purpose which is educating Black youth. To date, Unite has assisted its high school seniors in accumulating $30.2 million in scholarships. They have been accepted to over 300 universities across the nation. Travis is a proven fundraiser and has raised over $85,000 for the organization in the last 6 years.


His latest accomplishment was planning and executing the 2020 Virtual HBCU Student Leadership Conference alongside Duncan Kirkwood. This free 3-day virtual conference provided an opportunity for 330 HBCU student leaders to connect and engage in innovative workshops focused on leadership, personal development, career development, and social impact. There were 38 HBCUs represented at the conference. 

Travis has received multiple accolades and awards. He has received two City of Lafayette Proclamations, Mentor of the Year by 100 Black Men of America, a UCEA Jackson Scholar Award, an SREB Doctoral Scholar Fellowship, named a member of the 50 under 50 at Alabama State University, the 2018 Clemson College of Education Award of Excellence in Service Outreach, and the 2018 Alabama State University Achievement Award, named citizen of the year by the Kappa Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, and name an honorary member of Chi Sigma Alpha.