Attorney, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates
Knox Trustee, Vice Chair for Advancement
Political Science Major
Years before "globalization" became a household term or Thomas Friedman
wrote his best-seller The World is Flat, Charles F. "Chuck" Smith pursued a
career that would take him around the world. What prepared him for a successful global career? Knox College.
"I don't think I would have the professional career I do now without Knox," says Smith, a 1984 Knox graduate, 1987 University of Chicago Law School graduate, and an attorney with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates. "The environment at Knox was challenging, but safe," he says. "It's a great place to try things you've never done before, to stretch yourself academically."
Based in Chicago, Smith represents Skadden clients around the world and frequently travels to Europe. Yet despite his hectic schedule, he returns to the Knox campus at least three times a year, thanks to his position as a general trustee.
Smith joined the Board of Trustees in 2003 and has served on the Honorary Degree Committee, the Executive Committee, and the Alumni Hall Task Force, of which he is currently chair. "Being a Board member ties me to the institution and gives me all kinds of ways that I can help Knox, its students, faculty, and staff," says Smith, adding, "What's happening at Knox right now is exciting, and to be involved with the College is great."
His service to Knox extends beyond the Board. Smith has volunteered for Admission and the Bastian Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development and was chair of the Knox Fund Steering Committee for three years. He views his service as a natural extension of his Knox education. "Knox helped me, and I help Knox however I can," he says. He hopes other Knox alumni feel the same way. "If you believe Knox gave to you, you've got to give back to Knox."
Encouraging others to support Knox financially is one of the Board's biggest challenges, according to Smith. "Knox as a whole is doing well right now, but the College has an endowment that isn't commensurate with its reputation," he says. "One of our major jobs as trustees is helping President Taylor chart a course toward financial impregnability -- either by giving to the College ourselves or encouraging others to make Knox a giving priority."
Whether it is as a trustee or as an Admission volunteer, Smith always brings one thing with him -- enthusiasm. "I found a lot of joy during my time at Knox," he says. "I carry that lesson with me today. I find joy in my work and in my relationships with people." Smith's love of music and radio, which he honed working at Knox's radio station, WVKC, has also stuck with him. "I used to travel the country to see Bruce Springsteen while I was at Knox. Today, I travel the world to see him," says Smith. "The last time I saw Springsteen was in Frankfurt, Germany."
Smith hopes that today's Knox students will have a similar experience. "Take the lessons you learn about yourself at Knox and figure out a way to apply them to yourself 20, 30, 40 years down the road," he advises.
Smith also encourages current students to take advantage of the global component of the Knox community. "The world is getting smaller and smaller, and Knox students are uniquely able to take advantage of the diverse international component of the student body," he says. "You have to be able to give back to the world, not just your community and nation."