Bardwell L. Smith
Perhaps it is because Bardwell Smith has lived his life according to the philosophy “we do nothing alone” that he has singlehandedly had such a lasting impact on Carleton and its alumni. From 1960 to the present, Smith has embraced Carleton and Northfield, coaxing growth and change from each while nurturing and educating at a laudable level.
Instigator of the renowned Carleton Japanese “Garden of Quiet Listening” behind Watson Hall in 1976, Smith also helped create Carleton’s Asian studies program; he was its director from 1973– 1977, 1985–1986, and 1988–1990.
Recruited to Carleton in 1960 by Professor Ian Barbour, the Yale-educated Smith joined the young Department of Religion, serving as its chair from 1962– 1964, 1976–1981, and 1988–1990.
Smith was dean of the college from 1967–1972 under Presidents John Nason and Howard Swearer, and his calm presence, active engagement, compassion, and good humor during that turbulent era are said to have enabled Carleton to build bridges among students, faculty members, administrators, and academic disciplines, and between Carleton and both Northfield and the world beyond. Smith played a key role in implementing student participation in faculty evaluations, increasing study-abroad opportunities, and including student participation in governance and major College decisions.
Smith served as a consultant to Asian studies programs at more than 20 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Asia from 1970–2002. He was a leader in establishing consortial off-campus Asian studies programs in Pune, India; Sri Lanka; Tokyo; Kyoto; and Tianjin, China. Smith served on the advisory committee for the Luce Foundation from 1999–2002 and has been involved with the International Association of Buddhist Studies since 1974.
Smith was co-editor of Contributions to Asian Studies (1973–1985), Journal of Developing Societies (1985–1986), and Journal of Asian and African Studies (1986–1995). He has written and edited 14 books and 35 articles dealing with Asian religions.
Smith also has been active in the Northfield community; he was on the Northfield Arts Guild board (2006–2009) and was a co-founder of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (2000–2005) and the Just Foods Co-op.
With his partner and wife Charlotte, who played a key role in Smith’s activities over the years, Smith is a Heywood Society member. The couple, whose family includes five children and seven grandchildren, continues to live in Northfield, where they enjoy the Japanese garden in their own backyard as well as the one across the street.