Oliver Smith served three terms as chair of the Department of Journalism, combining for a total of thirteen years. His first term was from 1946-1949, his second from 1951-1960 and his third from 1963-1967. Over the course of these terms, Smith helped the department develop the structure which helped it evolve into the Department of Communications.
Prior to his appointment, Smith helped develop the Hill Cumorah Pageant in New York and also pioneered in the broadcasting of BYU sporting events.
During Smith's first term, he delegating responsibility for the Extension Division, which later became Public Relations, and retained responsibility for the News Bureau. For the first time, the Department began to offer public relations courses and instituted a news laboratory. Under Smith's direction, BYU began to increase its particpation in national journalism organizations.
From 1951 to 1960, Smith focused on developing divisions for advertising, broadcasting, and public relations. The Journalism Department moved from an old yellow army barracks to the Herald R. Clark, seperating the department from the News Bureau for the first time in BYU history. During this period, the Universe started to print five issues a week, and BYU started to host conferences for young journalists.
Finally, during his last term as chair, the Journalism Department officially became the Communications Department. As part of this change, the department moved from the College of Humanities to the College of Fine Arts. The Department itself moved from the Herald R. Clark building into the Jesse Knight Building and preparations were made in the Harris Fine Arts Center for BYU Broadcasting.
By the end of his last term as chair, Smith was anxious to return to the classroom. (Pratte, 18)
- Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Vol. 13 No. 1-2 (2004)
- Somewhere Between Mount Olympus and Mount Everest, Paul Alfred Pratte, 2003.
See The Joint Oral History Project Interview with Oliver Smith by Marden Clark (30 April 1985) for a full transcript.