Malone was a professor of history, a prolific writer and noted historian in addition to his work as president of MSU who died in December 1999. His family established the professorship with the requirement that it be awarded to an MSU history professor.
"Michael's true love was history," said his widow, Kathleen Malone. "It only makes sense that he would be honored in this way, in a professorship.
"I am thrilled that Billy has received this and I know Michael would have been thrilled as well. Billy has such a fine mind and reaches beyond the norm in his research. Michael had always admired him."
Smith's award includes a reduction in his teaching load for three years, a travel stipend and funding to hold a symposium or conference on the MSU campus in his academic area.
"Smith is one of America's leading historians of Colonial U.S. history as well as one of the great lecturers on campus who has won numerous teaching and research awards," Rydell said, adding that Smith has also worked on revamping the university's core curriculum.
"We are grateful to the Malone family for their support," Rydell said.
Smith said he plans to use the Malone Professorship to work on his research on class and poverty in early America and yellow fever epidemics in America in the 1790s. He will also travel to Philadelphia to work on a team that is studying the Constitution Center excavation that yielded "literally millions of artifacts" that provide a window to the way that Colonial Philadelphians lived. Smith is also planning an international conference at MSU in memory of Michael Malone in the fall of 2003
"The great thing about the professorship is that it facilitates and enables me to do these things," Smith said. "Also, on a personal level I knew Mike and admired him, so it weights the honor even more. I especially admired his commitment to scholarship and his continuing to undertake research and writing even when he was president-something that few top-level administrators are able to accomplish."
For more information contact: Robert Rydell (406) 994-4395