Louisiana Tech community mourning the loss of Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith

Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith greatly impacted those around her.
Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith greatly impacted those around her.(Source: Louisiana Tech University)
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 11:41 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RUSTON, La. (KNOE) - The Louisiana Tech University community recently lost a great friend, mentor, colleague, and much more.

Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at Louisiana Tech University, died on Tuesday, April 4, at the age of 50.

Born in West Monroe in 1972, Oaks Smith spent the majority of her life in the Northeast Louisiana community. In 1990, she became an alumna of the first graduating class of West Ouachita High School before attending Louisiana State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. It was during that time she met her husband, Keith Smith, in 1995.

Their daughter, Rebekah Marshall, was born in 1997.

Oaks Smith worked for a short time in Ruston where she wrote for the Ruston Daily Leader. The family relocated to Little Rock; and Oaks Smith continued her education, earning a master’s degree in communication at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

In 2017, she and her family moved back to Ruston and Oaks Smith became the head of the communication department. In 2023, she earned her Doctorate of Education at Louisiana Tech University.

Oaks Smith greatly impacted all those around her, especially in the field of higher education.

“Tonya devoted her professional career to the enrichment of higher education, for both the lived of students and educators alike,” her obituary read. “W.B. Yates said, ‘Education is not the filling of the pot but the lighting of a fire,’ and Tonya embodied that motto every day in her career. Her love of learning sparked a flame that inspired her colleagues around the country through her work with organizations like the HEWeb program. ‘Marley’s Mom,’ as she was affectionately known to most online, was wickedly smart, incredibly charming, and passionate about encouraging educators to use their potential to make the world a better place.”

Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith liked this picture of her drinking from a mug with Rosie the Riveter on...
Dr. Tonya Oaks Smith liked this picture of her drinking from a mug with Rosie the Riveter on it, reading "We Can Do It."(Source: Louisiana Tech University)