Courtney Michelle Smith, PhD
Professor and Chair, History and Political Science
Courtney Michelle Smith’s, PhD., Cabrini story begins in her senior year of high school when she took three classes as part of the Archdiocesan Scholar program. She immediately felt a sense of community within the campus, and she returned to Cabrini full-time to pursue degrees in history and political science.
As a history and political science major, she found the faculty members, particularly James Hedtke, PhD, and Jolyon Girard, PhD, to be engaging and eager to provide a welcoming educational environment. She enjoyed all of the classes she took with Hedtke and Girard, and she eventually used their teaching styles as models to develop her own unique approach to teaching and mentoring students for their futures beyond Cabrini.
After graduating from Cabrini, Smith earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in American History, but she never lost her connections with her alma mater. She regularly returned to Cabrini for alumni events, like the annual History Club Forms. In 2008, Smith returned to Cabrini as a full-time faculty member in the History and Political Science Department. Since that time, Smith has taught in all the department’s disciplines and has both developed new courses as well as reimagined existing courses. She served as an advisor to the History Club, an organization she helped found as a student, and has mentored many students through their Cabrini and post-graduate careers. Smith has also provided oversight to Cabrini’s undergraduate core curriculum and has worked with faculty to ensure that the core curriculum requirements best meet students’ needs. For her work on helping to build a new core curriculum, Smith won the 2021 Distinguished Faculty Award for Internal Service.
Smith’s research interests include political history, sports history, and local history. She is the author of several manuscripts, including one on Ed Bolden and his leadership of the Philadelphia Stars, a Negro National League baseball team that played from 1933 to 1953. Smith hopes that her research, and the advocacy of other baseball historians, helps to get Bolden elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Another manuscript focused on the life and career of Jackie Robinson, while a third manuscript focused on the stories famous speeches tell about American history in the colonial era and in the early republic. Smith is also the author of many articles and book reviews. For future projects, she hopes to remain focused on the intersections between her research interests in politics, sports, and local history.
Smith has presented her research at several regional and national conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the Society for Baseball Research, the Annual Meeting of the Jerry Malloy Conference, and the Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. She has also been a featured speaker on podcasts and on local news stories.
Ever since she first set foot on campus, Smith felt that Cabrini was a perfect fit for her. Now she takes on the same fervor for history, for political science, and for Cabrini exhibited by her former professors, and tries to pass it on to her students every day.