Virginia Tech®home

J. Cole Smith, Ph.D.


Dr. J. Cole Smith is Associate Provost of Academic Initiatives and Professor of Industrial Engineering at Clemson University, and a proud 2000 graduate of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research regards mathematical optimization models and algorithms, especially those arising in combinatorial optimization.

After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University in 1996, Cole joined the Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech where he studied under Dr. Hanif D. Sherali. During his time at Virginia Tech, he married Cindy Smith (a 1998 VT Master’s alumna in Computer Science). His dissertation was honored at VT with the Paul Torgersen Graduate Research Award in 2000, and externally by the 2001 IISE Pritsker Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Cole joined the University of Arizona in 2000 before moving to the University of Florida as an associate professor in 2005. He moved back to Clemson as chair of the Industrial Engineering department in 2014. In his four years of service as department chair, this department achieved its highest ever ranking. He stepped aside from this role in August 2018 to begin his new role as Associate Provost.

Dr. Smith’s awards include the ONR Young Investigator Award, the Operations Research Division Teaching Award. He has received best paper awards in Networks and in IIE Transactions. He became a Fellow of IISE in 2018. Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees for IISE as Senior VP for Continuing Education and on the Board of Directors for INFORMS as VP for Publications. He and Cindy are immensely proud of their three daughters, Katie, Danielle, and Claire, each of whom balance interests in science and mathematics with their amazing aptitude for art and music, while showing great empathy and respect for others. Cole enjoys his time outdoors, especially on long runs, including the 2018 Hokie Half Marathon in Blacksburg.