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April 14, 2023

MDHEWD welcomes first African American woman president of Harris-Stowe State University

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD), the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, MDHEWD Commissioner Dr. Bennett Boggs, Gov. Mike Parson, as well as a host of higher education leaders, state leaders, and other dignitaries celebrated the investiture of Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith as the first African American woman president of Harris-Stowe State University during a ceremony Friday at the university.

The university, one of two historically black universities in Missouri, marked the historic occasion by celebrating Dr. Collins Smith’s accomplishments and past leadership as interim president of the institution.

Among her accomplishments for the university, in her first year as interim president, the university raised over $3.9 million in scholarships and donations, a 462 percent increase from the previous year. In February, the university announced a new academic college focused on science, technology, engineering, and math called the College of STEM. Collins Smith has served as interim president since June 2021.

“True champions focus on the journey, not just the finish line,” Dr. Collins Smith said during the ceremony. “We must remember champions aren't born. They're made from the actions they take, the work they put in, and the focus they have for what matters most. The future of Harris-Stowe is bright and we are prepared to continue the journey of greatness. Champions, let's get to work!”

“Your foundation and commitment to education anchors deep and continues to flourish and expand, broadening the personal and professional horizons of those who enter your doors,” Dr. Boggs said. “The Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development looks forward to our continued partnership as we work together to empower every Missourian with the skills and education needed for success.”