- National Academies (1915)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
Henry Lester Smith was dean of the Indiana University School of Education from 1916-1946. He was born April 2, 1876 in the Bloomington, Indiana area, attended rural area schools and Bloomington High School, then served as teacher and principal in Hayden and Brookville, Indiana, while completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Indiana University. In 1905, he became a supervising principal in the Indianapolis Public Schools. During the 1908-1909 academic year, Smith served as Superintendent of Schools in the Canal Zone (Panama). He was principal of Bloomington High School from 1909 to 1915, teaching courses at IU as well, and was assistant superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools in 1915-1916. Upon completing his doctorate from Teachers College Columbia University in 1916, he returned to IU as dean of the School of Education, a position he held until his retirement in January 1946. His thirty years of service were interrupted only by a brief period of service with the Federal Board of Vocational Rehabilitation in 1918-1919. Throughout his deanship, Smith worked closely with the Indiana Department of Public Instruction, conducting experimental county school work in the 1920s, with a specific focus on building and facility needs. He created the IU Bureau of Educational Research and made it the means of disseminating the best in educational thinking to Indiana educators and others through regular publication of its Bulletins. Smith taught throughout his administrative career, focusing particularly on school administration and international education, often combining the two in an effort to broaden the views of his Indiana students. He wrote and spoke widely on all dimensions of public schooling, from character and citizenship education to school buildings and the purpose of the university. His notion of educational leadership included both solid grounding in the practicalities of administration and a vision based upon moral and spiritual ideals. He spearheaded constitutional reform of the Indiana State Teachers Association in the early 1920s and was an active member of the National Education Association (NEA) and the World Federation of Education Associations (WFEA) throughout his career. He served as president of the National Council of Education of the NEA in 1925-31, as president of the NEA in 1934-35, and as secretary-general of the World Federation of Education Associations from 1941-1946. He was involved in drafting documents to create the educational branches of what would become UNESCO. Smith was an active lifelong member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and chair of the local Red Cross chapter. After his retirement, Smith remained active in upgrading school buildings during the postwar period through a position with the Indiana Department of Public Instruction. He died in Bloomington, Indiana, on October 25, 1963.