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Harris-Stowe State University's interim president to take the role permanently

LaTonia Collins Smith has been named the school's 21st president, effective Tuesday.
Credit: Harris-Stowe State University via St. Louis Business Journal

ST. LOUIS — Harris-Stowe State University officials announced Monday that interim President LaTonia Collins Smith has been named the school's 21st president, effective Tuesday.

Collins Smith took the interim role in June 2021 succeeding Corey Bradford, who left HSSU after a year in the president's post and is now vice president of administration and finance for Governors State University in suburban Chicago.

She is the first African American woman to serve as president of HSSU. In 1940, Ruth Harris became the first African American woman president of Stowe Teachers College, one of HSSU's predecessor institutions. 

Collins Smith holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from Maryville University; master's degrees in social work and public health from Saint Louis University; and a bachelor's in social work from University of Central Missouri. A native of St. Louis' historic Ville neighborhood, she is a graduate of St. Louis Public Schools. 

She held a variety of social work posts with nonprofits, schools and public agencies before beginning her career in higher education at Harris-Stowe in 2010. Prior to taking the role of interim president, Collins Smith had been HSSU's provost and vice president of academic affairs. Prior to that role, she had served as the university's interim provost and chief academic officer. 

She served as co-principal investigator of a $5 million National Science Foundation grant to strengthen STEM in the state of Missouri and serves as chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Celebration Commission of Missouri. 

“Dr. Collins Smith exemplifies Harris-Stowe’s core values of Personal Growth, Respect, Innovation, Diversity, and Excellence," Michael McMillan, chair of HSSU's Board of Regents, said Monday in a statement. "She has demonstrated her extraordinary ability to connect with all of our stakeholders and to catapult Harris-Stowe forward in these critical times.” 

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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