“For almost four decades, the Zoryan Institute has been reliant on Roger Smith’s gentle leadership and profound wisdom in his capacity as Chair of the Zoryan Institute’s Academic Board of Directors.
He has always been an advocate for truth, justice, and human rights. The scholarly contributions that he made to comparative genocide studies and genocide denial, were not only foundational to the field itself, but were also instrumental in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide by so many nations over the past four decades. On a personal level, Roger was a dear friend, and a mentor. I turned to him often for his advice, and for his thoughtful, just and reasonable approach to all matters when it came to managing the Zoryan Institute and its work as far back as the 1990s. I will miss him, and the world will miss him. I am forever grateful to him and his contributions. He was pivotal to ZI’s development to what it is today.
His loss, along with the recent loss of other notable genocide scholars like Herbert Hirsch, Vahakn Dadrian, and Eric Markusen, leaves a big void for the next generation, however the legacy that they all leave behind is so pivotal, that they will continue to educate and influence many more generations to come.“
– K.M. Greg Sarkissian, President, A Founder, and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Zoryan Institute
“Roger W. Smith’s contributions to the field of Genocide Studies, along with his contributions to the mission of the Zoryan Institute, have been immense, and they are intertwined. His theoretical approach and analysis of denial are so profound that you could read an article of his from 35 years ago and be struck by how accurate and relevant it still is today.”
– George N. Shirinian, Executive Director of the Zoryan Institute
“With Roger Smith’s passing, genocide studies has lost a giant and we at Zoryan have lost a treasured colleague, mentor, and friend. Roger was one of the founders of genocide studies and continued to be an innovator in the field throughout his long career. He was for so many years a mainstay at the Zoryan Institute, expertly leading our GHRUP program, mobilizing his and others’ research through our journal Genocide Studies International, appearing at and organizing numerous conferences, symposia, and other events. Roger was incredibly generous intellectually and personally with everyone. He possessed a deep and genuine well of humanity from which his urgent concern for the problem of genocide emerged, and through which he showed his care and concern for all of us as members of the Zoryan family. For me, Roger was a mentor, a friend, a southern gentleman, a hard act to follow, and someone I just really enjoyed being around. His legacy in genocide studies, political theory, and the Zoryan Institute will surely live on for years to come. His memory is a blessing to all of us.”
-Prof. Maureen Hiebert, Chair of the Academic Board of Directors of the Zoryan Institute, and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary
“Roger W. Smith was a beloved colleague, scholar and friend; and for all of us who knew him his integrity, wisdom and model as a scholar/teacher/activist remain part of his enduring legacy. My heartfelt condolences to Roger’s wife and family. His contribution to IAGS, Institute for the Study of Genocide and in the last decades, his remarkable contributions and dedication to the Zoryan Institute were crucial to so many important ZI initiatives including the GHRUP course. He served as a mentor to students and colleagues. I have in my memory, an image of Roger teaching the section on denial in the GHRUP; carefully explaining the complexity of the concept. He used the denial of the Armenian Genocide as an example of the politics and harms of ongoing denial. His insights brought students from Armenia, Turkey and other parts of the world together in debate and discussion; and by the conclusion of the session, all of us had a deeper understanding of the philosophical and political dimensions of denial and how the classroom can be a privileged space to move forward understanding and dialogue. I like to think of all those students from Virginia to Toronto; Buenos Aires, St. Andrews to Yerevan and Kigali who carry his legacy against denial and for genocide prevention forward.”
– Prof. Joyce Apsel, GHRUP Course Director, Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University, and President of the Institute for Study of Genocide
“As part of [the GHRUP] roster of lecturers, I was able to watch first-hand [Roger Smith’s] masterful leadership, insightful observations, and authoritative command of the subject. He was particularly keen on issues relating to the difficult encounter between the repression of incitement to racism and genocide and the protection of freedom of expression.”
-Prof. William A. Schabas, Professor of International Law at Middlesex University
I met Professor Roger Smith only once in Yerevan, at the Global Forum held in 2015, but I knew him from afar by his works, which formed a certain image of him in me: a broad-minded but also brave scientist, a person who immediately understands the essence of the problem and makes an objective assessment: he was a kind but impartial researcher. In the course of his activities, among many other undertakings, he waged an unrelenting struggle in the direction of raising awareness of the genocide, teaching about it, and thus preventing it. I am sure that his work will live on in many of his students, some, if not most, of whom will become honest researchers with a civil attitude as Professor Smith was.
-Harutyun Marutyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute
“With great sadness I heard about the passing of Prof Roger Smith. Although I have never had the privilege of being taught by Prof. Smith, I can state that the legacy he left in the field of genocide studies and, particularly in the Armenian genocide studies, is a huge contribution in an everlasting fight against the evil of human civilization we still deal with. Prof. Smith’s long-lasting cooperation with the Zoryan Institute in both publications of academic journals and edited volumes, as well as enormous input in education and courses on genocide studies organized by the Zoryan Institute. Prof. Smith visited Armenia several times and I feel honored to have known him as a senior colleague. I am sure he was and will be an inspiration to many generations of future scholars. My greatest condolences to his family and sincerest sympathies to colleagues and friends.”
-Dr. Hayk Demoyan, Armenian Historian, Former Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute
“Roger’s keen insights into the nuances of genocide issues were crucial to the vibrancy of the journal and made an otherwise dark and painful subject matter not just tolerable but meaningful and confirming. It is safe to say that the very existence of GSI owes much to Roger’s leadership.”
-Prof. Henry Theriault, Co-Editor of Genocide Studies International, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Worcester State University
“Roger was a very patient, kind, and encouraging leader. I was consistently impressed by his wisdom and his steady, calm approach to often very difficult subjects and situations, which often arise with the nature of this work. During my transition into a leadership position with the Zoryan Institute in recent years, I was often heartened by Roger’s generous offers of support, and his brief and frequent messages of encouragement. He was an incredible scholar, and an incredible human being. I will miss him greatly.”
-Megan Reid, Deputy Executive Director of the Zoryan Institute
Professor Roger Smith was a pioneering scholar in genocide studies and provided a foundational role in the establishment of the Zoryan Institute’s acclaimed international summer programme in Genocide and Human Rights. It is a programme that many of us benefitted greatly from attending. Roger’s wise words of academic expertise and kind encouragement were a highlight of the sessions. Well after the course, he continued his mentoring of former students and faculty alike.
We have been blessed by his special friendship, comradeship, and life-long commitment to global justice. He was an inspiration and a role model to many. His profound and hopeful spirit of light amidst the darkness will prevail for decades to come. We will do our best to keep that important flame alight.
-Prof. Alan Whitehorn, Professor Emeritus, Royal Military College of Canada
“I can say with confidence and certainty that Prof. Roger Smith’s encouragement and guidance was a pivotal moment in my academic career, and I owe a great debt of gratitude to Professor Smith’s generosity, and commitment to developing the next generation of genocide scholars.”
-Cheng Xu, PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, GHRUP 2017 Alumnus
“Roger Smith was a very close friend, great mentor, unique advisor, and a source of inspiration to me. He will be very much missed but his memory will live on with his family, friends, colleagues, students, people who knew him and even those who did not know in person but are familiar with his writings. I believe that Professor Smith will continue to teach many more generations of genocide scholars through his thoughts and writings.”
-Mari Hovhannisyan, Executive Administrator of Zoryan Institute Armenia International Foundation for Research and Development, GHRUP Alumna