Baseball stadium architect shares secrets of success with MSU grads

May 13th, 2013 Comments Off on Baseball stadium architect shares secrets of success with MSU grads

Janet Marie Smith, alumna and internationally recognized architect, presented Mississippi State University’s keynote address at the spring 2013 commencement exercises. (Photo by: Megan Bean)

By Leah Barbour | MSU University Relations

Mississippi State alumna and Los Angeles Dodgers executive Janet Marie Smith believes hard work, passionate conviction and unwavering courage are the skills that will help MSU’s Class of 2013 achieve success.

Smith, keynote speaker at the university’s commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday, emphasized those ideals again and again. As an internationally recognized baseball stadium architect, Smith knows how a college degree can offer opportunity.

She completed her architecture degree at MSU in 1981 and her master’s in urban planning from City College of New York. Smith has designed stadiums for the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. She currently works for the Dodgers as senior vice president of planning and development.

To take advantage of opportunities, however, graduates must be willing to work hard, stick to their principles and remain strong even in the face of adversity, she said.

“I hope that you’ll find inspiration, comfort and maybe some solace that you don’t have to conquer the world in order to contribute to humanity,” Smith said. “All you really need to do to give back is to find something that you love to do.”

She explained that she wasn’t the best student academically, but her strong work ethic, her desire to succeed and her unflinching determination to achieve her goals took Smith to the places she wanted to go and gave her the opportunity to do the things she wanted to do.

“You don’t just wind up with great successes in life, either personally or professionally,” she said. “You create it for yourself by what you are able to contribute and by your willingness to make everything a learning experience.

“It is important to keep a sense of humor, for the worst situations can make the best locker room tales. And it is important to keep things in perspective — for nothing is forever. Not the good. Not the bad.”

Bob Harrison received an honorary doctorate from Mississippi State University. (photo by Russ Houston / Mississippi State University)

In addition to more than 2,400 degree awards conferred at the commencement services, former Gov. William F. Winter and Madison architect Robert V.M. Harrison received honorary doctoral degrees.

Winter accepted an honorary doctorate in public service at the Friday ceremony. Not only did he serve as governor from 1980-1984, his encouragement and leadership ensured the education reform package including public kindergarten passed through Mississippi legislature.

He currently provides special counsel to the Jones Walker firm’s Government Relations Practice Group in Jackson.

Harrison received an honorary doctorate in science during Saturday’s exercises. He helped establish MSU’s School of Architecture 40 years ago, taught at MSU for 13 years and continues to support the architecture program through a lecture series endowment, gifts for scholarships, fund-raising assistance and facilities that support architecture students’ study.

Read the article in The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Click here to see more photos by University Relations of graduation.

May graduations include two leading architects, former governor

April 25th, 2013 Comments Off on May graduations include two leading architects, former governor

(By Sammy McDavid | University Relations)

STARKVILLE – Janet Marie Smith, a Mississippi State alumna and architect internationally recognized for her innovative baseball stadium designs, will be commencement speaker next month for both of the university’s spring graduations.

Also during the May 10 and 11 public programs in Humphrey Coliseum, MSU will bestow honorary doctoral degrees on, respectively, former governor William F. Winter and Madison architect Robert V.M. Harrison. Winter’s degree will be in public service; Harrison’s, in science.

More than 2,400 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students are candidates for 2013 spring semester diplomas.

Smith, a Jackson native who last year was named senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers, speaks first at the 7 p.m. ceremony on the 10th for graduates of the Bagley College of Engineering and its Swalm School of Chemical Engineering; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its School of Human Sciences; and colleges of Education, Forest Resources and Veterinary Medicine.

Her second address will be at 10 a.m. on the 11th to graduates of the colleges of Architecture, Art and Design and its School of Architecture; Arts and Sciences; and Business and its Adkerson School of Accountancy.

Smith is a 1981 MSU architecture graduate who also holds a master’s degree in urban planning from City College of New York. In 1994, she was named the architecture school’s alumna of the year; in 2011, the inaugural class of the Sports Business Journal’s “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”

Before being hired last summer by the Dodgers organization, Smith was vice president of planning and development for the Baltimore Orioles, a position she had held previously in the early 1990s. Prior to returning to Baltimore, she was in similar leaderships positions with the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. With the Braves, she also was president of Turner Sports and Entertainment Development, a division of the Turner Broadcasting System.

During her first stint in Baltimore, Smith oversaw the design and construction of Camden Yards and, in the process, created a model for other downtown ball parks around the country. In Atlanta, she led in transforming Olympic Stadium into Turner Field; in Boston, she was responsible for transforming venerable Fenway Park and leading the program that placed the ballpark on the National Historic Register.

Winter, Mississippi’s chief executive 1980-84, is nationally recognized for leadership in helping bring about the state’s education reform act that created the Magnolia State’s first public kindergartens, among other school improvements. A former state legislator who later was elected state tax collector, treasurer and lieutenant governor, he has been honored with a Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the 2009 Mississippi Medal of Service by his home state.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi and its law school, the Grenada native also holds a Mississippi Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award and is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. He currently is special counsel for the Jones Walker firm’s Government Relations Practice Group in Jackson.

Winter is a World War II veteran who continually has been praised for a lifetime of work involving efforts to expand opportunities for others. He is the namesake of Ole Miss’ racial reconciliation institute and the state’s teacher scholar loan program.

Harrison is a former two-term president of the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects and former member of the national AIA board. A partner for more than three decades in the Jackson architectural firm of JH&H, he was instrumental in helping establish MSU’s architecture academic program. Additionally, he served on the architecture school faculty for 13 years, and continues two decades of service on the school’s advisory council.

An intern development program for architecture graduates that Harrison proposed in his University of Florida master’s degree thesis was adopted, after being pilot tested, by Mississippi as the model in 1978. It now is mandatory for architectural registration in all 50 states.

He helped found the state chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute and served as its president. He remains among only a few professionals to hold the distinguished rank as a Fellow of both the AIA and CSI.

Harrison’s continuing support of the MSU architecture program includes endowment of a lecture series, gifts for scholarships and facilities in both architecture and landscape architecture and fundraising assistance. The popular campus auditorium in Giles Hall, home of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, is named for him and his wife Freda.

Read more on WCBI.

School of Architecture alumna hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers

August 7th, 2012 Comments Off on School of Architecture alumna hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers hired Janet Marie Smith as Senior VP of Planning and Development.

Smith, known throughout the sports world for her work with the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves, joins the Dodgers immediately.  She most recently served as the Orioles Vice President of Planning and Development.

“Dodger Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in sports and Janet Marie is one of the few people I would trust with its future,” said Dodger President Stan Kasten. “She respects baseball’s tradition and knows how to retain a ballpark’s distinctive charms while providing fans with the amenities and comfort they’ve come to expect. Any fan that has walked through the gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the renovated Fenway Park or Atlanta’s Turner Field has been a beneficiary of her understanding of what a ballpark means to its community. Every new baseball stadium built since 1992 has been influenced by what she helped build at Camden Yards.  And we thank Orioles owner Peter Angelos for allowing Janet Marie to join us.”

In her new role with the Dodgers, Smith will oversee upgrades and enhancements to Dodger Stadium.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new Dodgers ownership to find ways to create an even better fan experience,” said Smith. “Dodger Stadium is a treasured piece of the Los Angeles community and a special place where I watched more than a dozen games per season when I lived in L.A. during the early 1980s. It’s important to all of us that we restore and enhance the park in a way that honors its heritage and highlights its distinctive appeals, while still capturing what fans want and franchises need in a modern venue.”

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