Dr. Latonia Collins Smith has over 20 years of leadership experience and is working hard to foster a climate of excellence in her role of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at HBCU Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis. She has excelled at collaborating with other HBCU’s on virtual programs and events during the difficulties of the pandemic and shared with us her thoughts and goals for the upcoming year at HSSU.
Can you tell a little about yourself and your position at Harris Stowe State University?
My name is Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, I am a native St. Louisan with a personal mission to inspire change in others through the power of higher education, scholarship and service. I have more than 20 years of progressive leadership experience with an extensive background in administration and program development. I have the distinct pleasure of serving as the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Harris-Stowe State University. I provide leadership over the University’s academic enterprise to foster a climate of excellence for our students, faculty and staff.
How has the pandemic impacted HSSU?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that change can happen quickly in higher education if the circumstances call upon us to respond. For example, last spring we successfully moved every in-person course to an online or virtual instructional format. Although we were able to make the appropriate adjustments quickly, our students desire the in-person experience of engaging with their fellow peers and faculty. As a result, some students have taken a gap semester off. One of the positives of the pandemic for us is we will continue to develop a strong distance education program now that faculty and students have experienced remote learning. But what we also discovered is remote learning is not for everyone, some students will only be successful in traditional face-to-face courses.
How has your engagement been with the student body?
Our engagement with students has been primarily virtual. We have offered student programming and activities via virtual platforms. However, the pandemic has offered us more opportunities to collaborate with other HBCU’s on virtual programs and events. This, in turn, has fostered a more working relationship rather than competitive one between HBCU’s.
What else would like to share about HSSU?
Harris-Stowe State University was the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River and is the only public 4-year institution in the City of St. Louis. HSSU is one of two HBCUs in the State of Missouri. We pride ourselves on being affordable, accessible, and diverse. We offer 59-degree programs and other academic options. HSSU is one of the leading producers of African American STEM graduates in the state. For two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020, we were ranked by the Washington Monthly as one of the Top Bachelor’s Colleges in the nation. We have a commitment to small class sizes as low as 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. HSSU has over 40+ student organizations and clubs, including all nine black Greek letter organizations.
Provided by Harris Stowe State University