MU honors Nobel Prize Professor with bike space

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COLUMBIA - MU honored Dr. George Smith, the first Nobel Prize winner in university history, with a reserved space to park his bike Thursday.

"There is a tradition on some campuses, apparently, that Nobel Laureates receive lifelong free parking. That is not a tradition that works well for us because we have a very special Nobel Laureate," Pat Okker, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

Smith said he never drives to work, even in bad weather.

"I have a jacket if it gets cold, I have a raincoat if it is rainy, and I have a bike light if it gets dark," Smith said.

Smith said if it is too icy to ride his bike to work, he walks.

The funny nature of a reserved bike rack spot was not lost on retired university employee Donald Harter, who commuted with Smith to work before Harter retired.

"There is a humorous side to it because he's this great Nobel Laureate, and we are going to dedicate this bike rack to him," Harter said. 

Harter brought Smith an article from 2006 where the two were named joint commuters of the month by PedNet, an organization focused on creating more opportunities for green commuting. 

Harter said he likes the green commute for the conversation, not just the conservation.

"It was just a time we connected with each other. When you are in a car, you tend not to talk to people. They are in their car, you are in your car, the windows are rolled up," Harter said. 

Smith said he is making his reserved bike spot open to the public.

"If you get a ticket, see me. I think I can get it fixed," Smith said.