Erika Cornelius Smith ’05 Named Senior Director of Alumni Engagement

Alumni Profile

Millikin University

Millikin welcomes Erika Cornelius Smith ’05, who returns to campus this month as Senior Director of Alumni Engagement. Among her responsibilities are to oversee Millikin programs, events and other efforts that help build relationships and connections between the University and its alumni and friends. 

Dr. Smith was most recently Director of Strategic Partnerships and Alumni Engagement at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Prior to that, she was Associate Professor of International Business and Political Science, as well as Chair of the International Business and Civic Leadership programs at a business-specialty school in New England.

Erika Smith


“Returning to Millikin University as a member of the Alumni & Development team is both a privilege and a profound honor,” she says. “As an alum, I know from firsthand experience that a liberal arts education with an emphasis on ‘theory meets practice’ is the best preparation anyone can have for the job market and a rewarding, meaningful life as a citizen in our democracy.” 

With more than 15 years of experience in higher education, her academic career also included serving as an instructor and course designer at private colleges, public research universities, community colleges and virtual global campuses. In addition to her Millikin degree in Philosophy and Political Science, she also holds a Master’s in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University, as well as a Ph.D. in History and a certificate of advanced study in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, both from Purdue University. As a Millikin student, she was a James Millikin Scholar, active in Model Illinois Government, and a member of Delta Delta Delta, University Center Board and Big Blue Buddies. 

Her research and commentary have been featured in print and broadcast outlets. She contributes her interdisciplinary scholarly research to peer-reviewed journals, including White House Studies, Journal of Transnational Management, American Studies in Scandinavia and International Journal of Export Marketing, as well as numerous monographs and edited collections. Her recent book, “Service Above Self: Women Veterans in American Politics,” explores the political careers of servicewomen who run for national office. 

“I received an exceptional undergraduate education, and it continues to shape my career and my personal values, including my decision to enter higher education for my profession,” Erika says. “There are exciting developments underway on campus and in the Alumni office. I look forward to connecting with alumni, students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks. Go Big Blue!”