Inauguration of Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith

Harris-Stowe Celebrated its 21st President with a Gala Evening on April 14

The Inauguration of Dr. Latonia Collins Smith took place at Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) on Friday, April 14, at 10:00 a.m. Dr. Collins Smith is the 21st President of Harris-Stowe State University. She is the first African-American woman to serve as President.

Celebration activities on April 14 culminated with the Presidential Scholarship Gala held at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, 6:00 p.m. News reporter Carol Daniel served as Gala Host and the Dirty Muggs provided entertainment. The Celebrity Host was Kadeem Hardison.

Dr. Collins Smith has more than 25 years of progressive leadership experience with an extensive administrative and program development background. She began her career in higher education at Harris-Stowe State University in 2010 as a Project Director in the Office of Counseling Services. She has served the institution as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Assistant Provost and as Executive Director of the Center for Career Engagement. Dr. Collins Smith was the co-principal investigator of a $5 million National Science Foundation grant to substantially strengthen STEM in the state of Missouri, the largest grant in the history of Harris-Stowe.

During Dr. Collins Smith’s first year as President, HSSU made significant strides. Under her leadership, the University raised more than $3.9 million in scholarships and donations which represent a 462% increase from the previous year. In addition, the University kicked off the renovation for the former Vashon Community Center Building which will be the home of the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute and the National Black Radio Hall of Fame. The University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is in the early development phase. In 2021-2022, HSSU graduated its largest class in the University’s history (236 students). 51% of the students graduated with honors.

Dr. Collins Smith serves as chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Celebration Commission of Missouri and Co-Chair of the Concordance First Chance Campaign. She serves as a member of the following boards: the Higher Education Consortium of St. Louis, Greater St. Louis, Inc., Boy Scouts of America Greater St. Louis Area Council and Ameren Missouri Community Voices Board. She was instrumental in founding the University of Central Missouri Black Alumni Organization and serves as a member of the Alumni Board of Directors and Alumni Foundation Board of the University of Central Missouri.

Dr. Collins Smith is a charter member of the Black Women College Presidents and Chancellors (BWCPC), a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a Silver Life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Omega Chapter, and a member of the Gateway (IL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

Dr. Collins Smith earned an educational doctorate in higher education from Maryville University. She holds a master of social work degree and a master of public health degree from Saint Louis University and a degree from the University of Central Missouri where she majored in social work.

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