LaTonia Collins Smith named interim president
Then-Harris-Stowe State University president Corey Bradford was beaming during the school’s 2021 commencement ceremony on May 8.
Less than a month later, and just more than a year after leaving Prairie View A&M University to accept the position in St. Louis, Bradford has left for an undisclosed job at an undisclosed research university – and no one knows why or will not divulge what is going on.
In a June 4 press release, the school said Bradford, the school’s 20th president, was “leaving Harris-Stowe State University to pursue an opportunity at a research university. The HSSU Board of Regents thanks Dr. Bradford for his leadership.”
The American contacted HSSU for details on Bradford’s sudden departure. Alandrea Stewart, executive director of communications and marketing, said via email, “The only thing we know at this time is that Dr. Bradford left to pursue an opportunity at a research university, and we wish him the very best.”
“We are confident that Harris-Stowe State University will continue to build upon its strong reputation, ensuring its importance to the St. Louis region,” said Stewart, who was honored during the 2018 St. Louis American Foundation Salute to Young Leaders.
Stewart referred further questions to Lents & Associates, who she described as the university’s communication consultants.
Peggy Lents then provided the American with the same press release it received June 4 and included no additional information.
Until a new president is hire, Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, who was serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will serve as interim president. She had only been in that role since August 2020.
The Board of Regents remains mum on Bradford’s exit, but its chair supports the administrator thrust into the presidential role under challenging circumstances.
“Dr. Collins Smith has a proven record of outstanding leadership and will serve the University well,” Ron Norwood, Regents chair, said in the release.
She first served Harris-Stowe State University in 2010 as an Office of Counseling Services project coordinator. She has also served the institution as associate provost, assistant provost and as executive director of the Center for Career Engagement.
Collins Smith received an educational doctorate in higher education leadership from Maryville University in St. Louis, respective master’s degrees of social work and public health from Saint Louis University and an undergraduate degree in social work from the University of Central Missouri.
According to HSSU, Collins Smith was instrumental in securing a $5 million National Science Foundation grant, the largest in the university’s history, to broaden STEM education.
She currently serves as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the nation’s largest regional accreditation body. She also served as the campus team lead for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Re-Imagine First Year Project, the Strada Foundation Measuring College Value project, the Complete College America MSI Initiative, the Ascendium Project Success Initiative and the Gallup Alumni Survey Project.
She is a recipient of the Equal Education Opportunity Group Pioneer Award, the NAACP Ben Hooks Community Leader award and is a 2019 Millennium Leadership Initiative Protégé, a St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellow and a Higher Education Leadership Foundation Fellow.
And for now, she is in charge of Harris-Stowe State University.