February Staff Feature: Paul Smarsh

It is a key priority of your RIT Staff Council to communicate clearly with and on behalf of our constituents, RIT staff and highlight the important work of our staff and how they contribute to the RIT community. To achieve both of these goals, Staff Council is delighted to bring you this series that will highlight a member of the RIT community in a short, but informative interview. We continue our series by introducing you to Paul Smarsh, Assistant Manager at the Global Village Cantina and Grille, and an active member of Staff Council.

If you would like to nominate a staff member that you think we should interview, please let us know by filling out this short nomination form or email us at

(SC): Tell us a little about your RIT career. How long have you worked here and in what roles?

(PS): I have been working at RIT for approximately 36 years. I began my career at Grace Watson as a production cook and was soon promoted to what was then called a Production Coordinator which is comparable to the current title, Sous Chef. I worked at GW for approximately 18 years then moved to Crossroads Café and Market when they opened in the year 2000. In 2010 we opened the Cantina & Grille at Global Village which is where I work now as an assistant manager.

(SC): What do you enjoy most about your role at the Cantina?

(PS): What I love most about my current role at the Cantina & Grille is what I have loved about working at RIT for all these years. I have always enjoyed working with the many students from all over the globe. The world comes to you at RIT. I have learned that despite our differences in looks and language, all people truly have the same wants and desires. People are compassionate and caring no matter their origins.

(SC): Can you share a little about being on Staff Council?

(PS): I have been on RIT Staff Council off and on for total of approximately 9 years. I have served on the Executive Committee, University Council, Issues and Policies and a number of ad hoc committees. I have always thought the better way was to be part of the solution. Being active in Staff Council has given me a better understanding of the university and an appreciation for all its dedicated, intelligent and hardworking faculty and staff.

(SC): Tell us a little about “who you are” outside of your RIT experience. What might the RIT community not know about you?

(PS): I left RIT for 3 years in the 1980s and then returned with a focus on getting my AA degree. In 2000 I attended Roberts Wesleyan and received my BS in Organizational Management. I live in North Chili with my wife, Debra. Since my early 20’s I have been passionate about endurance sports. Starting out with running shorter races, I then gradually built up to half and full marathons. I then began to participate in triathlons and cross country skiing events, completing numerous half Ironman competitions and a full Ironman in Lake Placid in 2004. I have also completed a number of 50K and shorter distance ski races. While I do not compete as much as in the past I still enjoy training on a daily basis. I also love music. I attend the Rochester International Jazz Festival every summer, making sure I take the entire week off from work. I play a number of musical hand instruments, which drives my wife crazy, but she is very supportive and patient. I also collect music, having a fondness for a number of genres, including Old School R&B, Soul, World and Alternative.

(SC): What is your favorite RIT event and why?

(PS): My favorite event at RIT is, of course, graduation. Everyone’s hard work for the entire year and for many, the past 4 years, comes to its fruition. Students, staff and faculty all feel a sense of accomplishment. It is also a time when we are fortunate to meet many of our student employees’ parents and offer our congratulations. Graduation also marks the time, for many of us in Dining Services that we get take a deep breath, recharge our batteries and start planning for the fall.

(SC): What is your favorite/best RIT memory?

(PS): One of my best memories is when I had the opportunity to travel to Monterrey Mexico in 2008 for a NACUFS conference to represent RIT. Experiencing the culture and learning about its culinary history was fascinating and rewarding. I was able to bring many aspects of the conference back to RIT, enhancing my skills and appreciating the uniqueness of our Dining services compared to other colleges and universities.

Be sure to say hi to Paul if you see him at the Cantina & Grille. Paul, thank you for your service to RIT and your dedication to Staff Council!