“Rick has spent a lifetime bringing grace to the world of adults with severe and profound disabilities, one of the most forgotten populations,” noted Shahla Ala'i-Rosales, Ph.D., BCBA-D, associate professor in the Behavior Analysis department, who nominated Smith for recognition.
The Special Recognition Award honors an extraordinary student, faculty or staff member (or group) who has contributed momentous, unique talent or service to the university and cultivated UNT pride.
This award is given where no usual award or recognition is available due to unique quality of the contributions. The president selects the recipients and presents the awards as the occasion arises. The award was presented at the Salute to Faculty Excellence Dinner in October 2017.
“Over 230 students have gained meaningful and hands on experience helping people with severe disabilities.,” continued Ala’i-Rosales. “If you talk with any of these students you would see the impression this experience has left them. From Rick they have learned compassion and that through a science of behavior even the hardest problems can be solved, lives can be made better.”
Smith is Associate Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis. He specializes in assessment and treatment of severe behavior disorders. A particular passion is identifying underlying basic mechanisms that are involved in creating, maintaining, and treating these disorders. Major contributions include innovations in the assessment of severe behavior disorders to reduce risk to clients and caregivers. These include the development and validation of indirect methods of assessment as well as identification and functional analysis of precursor behaviors. This allows more effective assessment of such severe behaviors as self-injury and aggression without actually having to observe those behaviors directly.