Presidential SearchPresidential Search

Biography for Mr. Clifton M. Smart III


On June 27, 2011, Clifton M. "Clif" Smart III was named interim president of the university. Smart had been general counsel at Missouri State since Dec. 1, 2007.

Over the past 3½ years at Missouri State, Smart provided legal counsel to the Board, president, faculty, staff and administrators. He also has been involved in many campus-wide initiatives, including leading the university response to the state auditor's report on Missouri State; serving on the JQH Arena Task Force; developing a comprehensive on-line policy library for the university; and chairing or serving on a variety of searches: vice president for diversity and inclusion, chief financial officer (twice), director of admissions, director of human resources and men's basketball coach.

Smart joined The Strong Law Firm in 1992. He has been a shareholder in the firm since 1995 and vice president since 1998. Over the past 15 years, his practice consisted primarily of representing individuals and entities in catastrophic injury, medical malpractice and commercial cases.

Smart was selected to the panel of three applicants submitted to the governor for the vacant Missouri Supreme Court positions in 2002 and 2004. In February 2009, he was elected for a five-year term as one of the two lawyer members of the 31st Circuit Judicial Commission.

Smart was listed in Best Lawyers in America for 2007-08 in the fields of product liability, personal injury and professional negligence.

Prior to joining The Strong Law Firm, Smart worked for two years with the firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock, Ark. From 1986-90, he was with the Judge Advocate General's Corps. in Ft. Knox, Ky.

Smart and his wife, Gail, have two sons: Murray, who graduated in 2012 from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, and Jim, a sophomore at Hamilton College in New York. 

More details


  • University of Arkansas School of Law
    JD with high honors, 1986
    Leflar Scholarship, Oxford Scholar, Law Review
  • Tulane University
    BA in Political Science with high honors, 1983

Professional experience

  • Interim President, Missouri State University
    June 2011-present
  • Legal Counsel, Missouri State University
    Dec. 2007-June 2011
  • Lawyer Member, 31st Circuit Judicial Commission
  • The Strong Law Firm
  • U.S. Army