Edgar Fahs Smith (May 23, 1854 – May 3, 1928) was an American scientist who is best known today for his interests in the history of chemistry. He accumulated a large collection of pictures, books, and papers related to the history of chemistry, and which today forms the nucleus of the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as provost of the University, 1911-20.
Edgar Fahs Smith was born in York, Pennsylvania and earned his college degree at Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg (now Gettysburg College) in 1874. He received his Ph.D. under Friedrich Wöhler at the University of Göttingen in 1876. Smith then returned to the United States and, in time, became associated with the University of Pennsylvania, as a professor of chemistry (1888-1911), as vice-provost (1899-1911) and then as provost (1911-1920). Smith's scientific research covered the fields of electrochemistry, the determination of atomic weights, and the rare-earth elements.
The Chief administrator prior to 1930 was provost. The provost had oversite of the College faculty, except for law and medicine, until the administration of William Pepper.In several steps, over the course of Provost Pepper's tenure, all faculties began to report to the Provost.
Penniman continued as provost after 1930, in a diminished role after reorganization.