Pass along a news tip by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Xavier University Prof Put Boehner On Path To Speaker: 'John, You Ought To Think About Getting Yourself Back To School'

XU Prof Bill "Smitty" Smith
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A conversation in a suburban Cincinnati tavern 39 years ago after a high school basketball game set John Boehner on the course that has taken him to national prominence. Xavier prof Bill Smith -- who taught accounting for 50 years -- was at the Kenwood Tavern, the kind of neighborhood bar that dots Ohio cities.  He told Boehner it was time to get a degree.  Boehner had dropped out of the University of Cincinnati with bad grades, and was scraping by driving bulldozers, working construction and refereeing high school sports.  He had $400 in his bank account.  Boehner told the story about Smith's impact on his life in the 2006 commencement speech (pdf) he delivered on Xavier's campus in Cincinnati. Here's his recollection about the professor, who was widely known as 'Smitty' and died in 2009:

"After I had been out of school for several years, Bill and I were officiating together, out in Timbuktu somewhere, and in January 1971 we were having dinner after the game at the Kenwood Tavern.  Bill Smith leaned over to me and said, 'John you ought to think about getting yourself back to school.'  He said, 'You need to come to Xavier.'"

Boehner said he couldn't afford it.  Smith paved the way with the admission office.  Boehner took three classes and finished the semester with A and Bs.  He commuted, dropped out, then spent five years in night school.  He graduated in 1977 -- six years after Smitty told him to get a college education.  Now he's about to become Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the highest offices in the land.  And it all started with a barroom conversation.  Bill Smith didn't make the Republican speaker, but he surely helped set him on course for the job.

No comments:

Post a Comment