Prof. Roger Smith

Prof. Roger Smith Prominent Genocide Scholar, Chair of Zoryan Institute, Dies


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Prof. Roger W. Smith, Chair of the Academic Board of Zoryan Institute (2004-2022) and longtime Program Director of the Institute’s annual Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP), died at the age of 86 on November 28, 2022.

Throughout his distinguished career, Roger Smith wrote extensively on the nature, language, history, and denial of genocide. He was also involved in the establishment and oversight of the Institute’s Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, which later evolved into the present-day Genocide Studies International (GSI), and served as a longtime founding co-editor.

In his capacity as course director for the Zoryan Institute’s GHRUP, Prof. Smith was instrumental in the program’s development and long-term success. Prof. Smith’s passion for the program was very evident, and year after year he deservingly earned the respect and affection of many emerging genocide scholars. He often became a mentor and friend to many graduate students and young scholars around the world, including many students from Armenia.

In 2008, Smith was awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal in Armenia for “significant contribution to the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.” This is the highest award of the Republic of Armenia, which is awarded to individuals for their outstanding achievements in the fields of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences and sports. Smith was also awarded the Doctor of Letter Degree by Saint Andrews University in 2018 by the International Council on the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem in recognition of his contributions to genocide studies and political theory.

Smith was an outstanding scholar, a pioneer of comparative genocide, and genocide denial studies, and a great friend of the Armenian nation. He served as Professor Emeritus of Government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and taught courses on political theory. He was a founding member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and served as the President of the Association from 1997-1999.

In recognition of his lifetime of commitment to comparative genocide studies and genocide denial, and his love and dedication to the Institute’s Genocide and Human Rights University Program, which he often referred to as a “utopia”, the Zoryan Institute will be offering an annual Roger W. Smith Memorial Prize in his memory. This prize of $1,000 will be awarded to one deserving graduate of the program who has demonstrated a strong commitment to continuing their studies and work in the field of genocide studies. The recipient will be selected by faculty.

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Roger W. Smith is survived by his immediate family: Martha (wife), David (son), Amy (daughter-in-law), and Louisa (daughter).

A memorial service for Roger Smith is expected to be held in Spring 2023. To send condolences to the Smith family, contact the Zoryan Institute’s Deputy Executive Director, Megan Reid, at

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