Voice

Fred Smits Remembered

It was with great sadness we learned of the passing of Fred Smits, Executive Director of Infrastructure Technology Services in the Office of Information Technology. Fred  died unexpectedly April 30, 2011, while jogging.

Fred’s experience and leadership will be greatly missed. Fred had been with the university since 1997, providing steady and sure leadership for the critical but seldom seen services that keep the university’s online systems running every day. Fred was to step in and assume Steve Smith’s duties and responsibilities as Chief Information Technology Officer when Steve left UA to accept a similar job at the University of Hawaii. The CITO position will now be filled by Karl Kowalski until a permanent replacement is found. David DeWolfe will manage Infrastructure Technology Services during this period of transition.

A remembrance and reception for Fred Smits was held Friday, May 6, in the Board of Regents' Conference Room. Many friends and coworkers attended the event, both in person and via audio conferencing. His wife, Sue, son Jeff and daughter Julie came up from California to attend the service, in which David DeWolfe served as master of ceremonies.

Steve Smith opened the reception with his reflections on working with Fred over the years. DeWolfe then brought out an iconic stack of agendas, which elicited some chuckles from those familiar with the 70-plus page agendas that Smits painstakingly prepared for each weekly meeting. Alternating between expressions of sadness and loss,  joking and fond remembrances, speaker after speaker paid tribute to their colleague, mentor and friend. A common theme from all who spoke, including Julie Larweth, Michelle Rizk, Ping Lan, Joe Trubacz, Saichi Oba and others, was Fred’s hard work, dedication, attention to detail, and passion for running.

Fred was an avid runner over his lifetime. He ran a 10K every Saturday and tracked his progress in preparation for the annual Midnight Sun Run and other local races. Per his runner's log, Fred ran 411 consecutive weeks since May 2003, which he calculated at 3,144.9 miles.

In honor of Fred, a memorial 5K run/walk was held on the UAF campus on Saturday May 14, 2011. About  30 runners, joggers and walkers started and ended the 5K race at the UAF Patty Center. Click here for PHOTOS.

Participants were encouraged to consider giving to the Fred Smits MBA Scholarship set up at UAF by the Smits family. Fred was an alumnus of the School of Management, graduating in December 2010 with his MBA. He also participated in the very first Arctic Innovation Competition, winning a $100 honorable mention. The scholarship in his name will go to aspiring MBA students. To make a donation download the FORM or give through the Foundation website. (Online donors must specify the Fred Smits MBA Scholarship.)

Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go to Fred’s family as well as all of the coworkers at the university who will sincerely miss working with Fred.

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