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Harris-Stowe State University Names Its First Black Woman President

Harris-Stowe State University Names Its First Black Woman President

She’s carrying on a rich legacy!

Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) has just named its first Black woman president, Fox 2 Now reports.

Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith is a St. Louis native, growing up in The Ville Neighborhood, a product of the city’s public school system. She went on to earn a degree in social work before pursuing her master’s of public health degree from Saint Louis University, earning her doctorate in higher education leadership from Maryville University. She joined the HSSU faculty in 2010. More than a decade later, Collins Smith is making history as the first Black woman to be named president of the University since their founding more than 160 years ago. 

The HBCU is a result of the 1954 merger of Harris Teachers College (which was established for white students) and Stowe Teachers College, a school founded to train Black educators. Collins Smith stands on the shoulders of Ruth Harris, the first Black woman to become president of Stowe Teachers College in 1940. The veteran educator has over two decades of expertise in educational leadership and administration. She was recently honored for her work, receiving the Frankie Muse Freeman//Norman R. Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award at the NAACP 110th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Fund Dinner in St. Louis. 

Michael McMillan, Chair of the Board of Regents at HSSU, spoke about Collins Smith’s historic appointment, saying, “Dr. Collins Smith exemplified 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.”

Collins Smith was previously appointed as interim president of HSSU on June 1, 2021. She officially step into her new role as president on March 1. 

Congratulations, President Collins Smith! 

Photo Courtesy of Harris-Stowe State University