Professor Smail arrived at Kenyon in 1973, served as the department's first chair from 1973 to 1977, and played an instrumental role in the founding of Kenyon's anthropology/sociology program. Over the past 30-plus years, he has developed and taught the eight courses - two introductory and six upper-level - listed under "physical anthropology" in the Kenyon course of study. Professor Smail retired in June 2004, becoming the department's first emeritus professor of anthropology. In March of 2006, an endowed chair was established in his name, the J. Kenneth Smail Professorship in Anthropology, thanks to a $2 million gift from the Eaton family of Cincinnati.
In addition to his primary interests in undergraduate teaching, Professor Smail has developed scholarly and professional interests in a number of areas: human evolution, both biological and behavioral; evolutionary theory and the emergence of complexity; current issues in secondary and higher education; the interface between science and religion; peace and conflict resolution studies; and issues related to human demography and global carrying capacity. Most of his published work over the past two decades has focused on the latter two. He has developed and articulated his novel "peace hostage exchange" proposals in a number of papers and presentations in both the United States and abroad (Yugoslavia, India, Norway, Fiji, Canada, England) and has more recently published (in several venues) his long-held neo-Malthusian views on the need for a very significant reduction in global human numbers over the next one to two centuries.
Professor Smail's leisure time activities focus on music (from classical to barbershop), sports (tennis and indoor badminton), and relaxation (reading and puttering around the house). He and his wife Jane - formerly an adjunct instructor of piano at Kenyon - have two mid-30s children, Steve (Wooster: 1994) and Eric (Albion: 1998). Steve is currently a teacher/administrator at the University School of Nashville (high-school geology, filmmaking, website coordinator) and Eric has served as Program Director for several outdoor programs affiliated with the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California (experiential education: middle/high school).
1976 — Doctor of Philosophy from Yale University
1971 — Master of Philosophy from Yale University
1965 — Master of Arts from Indiana Univ Bloomington
1961 — Master of Education from Univ Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
1960 — Bachelor of Arts from Depauw University