Harris-Stowe State University has named its first Black woman president.
Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs before becoming interim president on June 1, 2021. Her first day in her new role was March 1. Smith is the 21st president to serve the university while following Ruth Harris’ footsteps. Harris was the first African American woman elected as president of Stowe Teachers College in 1940, according to the HSSU press release.
“Dr. Collins Smith exemplifies Harris-Stowe’s core values of Personal Growth, Respect, Innovation, Diversity, and Excellence. She has demonstrated her extraordinary ability to connect with all of our stakeholders and to catapult Harris-Stowe forward in these critical times,” Chair of the Board of Regents Michael McMillan said.
Smith has over 20 years of leadership experience with an administration and program development background. Her career in higher education began at HSSU in 2010 as a project coordinator in the Office of Counseling Services. She held several positions at the institution, including associate provost, assistant provost, and executive director of the Center for Career Engagement. Smith recently received the Frankie Muse Freeman/Norman R. Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award alongside McMillian at the St. Louis City NAACP 110th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Fund Dinner.
Chair of the Board of Regents Ron Norwood commented that “Dr. Collins Smith has a proven record of outstanding leadership and will serve the University well.”
The St. Louis native grew up in the Vile neighborhood and is a graduate of the St. Louis public school system. Smith graduated from the University of Central Missouri, where she majored in social work. Then, she went on to earn a master’s degree in social work and public health from Saint Louis University. In addition, Smith received an educational doctorate in higher education leadership from Maryville University.
Congratulations to Dr. Smith for preserving a legacy within the HBCU community.