Rhodes to Recognize 2018 Distinguished Alumni

head and shoulder shots of two college alumni
Dr. Herbert H. Hill (left, photo courtesy of WSU) and Dr. Coby V. Smith

Annual awards will be presented at Rhodes College’s Alumni Convocation on Oct. 20 during Homecoming/Reunion Weekend. Dr. Herbert H. Hill from the Class of 1967 will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Dr. Coby V. Smith from the Class of 1968 will receive the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has brought honor to Rhodes College through extraordinary achievement in his or her profession and community.

Dr. Herbert H. Hill obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rhodes, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University. He joined the Washington State University faculty in 1976 and currently is WSU’s Regents Professor in chemistry. For four decades, Hill has researched ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), which was originally developed as an analytical technique in chemical laboratories. IMS today has a wide spectrum of applications including detection of explosives, illicit drugs, chemical warfare agents, and other harmful materials. Hill has several patents related to IMS and is a founder of the International Ion Mobility Spectometry Society.  With ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IMMS), a process that analyzes both the weight and speed of chemical molecules, he also has studied the chemical processes involved in health and aging. Hill has two edited books and more than 200 peer reviewed scientific publications.

Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award

Established in 1998, the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes African-American alumni whose record of outstanding personal achievement and service to others has inspired Rhodes students and brought honor to their alma mater. 

Dr. Coby V. Smith graduated from Memphis’ Manassas High School in 1964 and became one of the first two African American students to attend Rhodes—then Southwestern at Memphis. While in college, he co-founded the Invaders, who organized the youth of Memphis to combat police brutality, poverty, and racial injustice. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rhodes and a doctorate in education from the University of University of Maine. In 1992, he founded a consulting firm offering business planning and proposal development, as well as operational and training consultation, to Memphis-area organizations. Smith also has taught at the college level and has given a number of lectures and keynote speeches across the country. In 2014, he was recognized by a State of Tennessee House Joint Resolution for his civic involvement and community service.