According to Fox 2 Now, Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) has named its first Black woman president. Harris-Stowe State University Now Has
Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith was born and raised in St. Louis, where she attended public schools and grew up in The Ville neighborhood. She went on to acquire a bachelor’s degree in social work before going on to Saint Louis University for her master’s degree in public health and Maryville University for her doctorate in higher education leadership. In 2010, she became a member of the HSSU faculty. Collins Smith is the first Black woman to be named president of the University since its foundation more than 160 years ago, more than a decade later.
Harris Teachers College (which was designed for white students) and Stowe Teachers College (which was founded to train Black educators) merged in 1954 to form the HBCU. Ruth Harris, the first Black woman to become president of Stowe Teachers College in 1940, stands on Collins Smith’s shoulders. The senior educator has more than two decades of experience in educational administration and leadership. She was recently recognized for her efforts at the NAACP 110th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Fund Dinner in St. Louis, earning the Frankie Muse Freeman/Norman R. Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award.
On June 1, 2021, Collins Smith was named as interim president of HSSU. On March 1, she took over as president for the first time.