As the grandson of Mississippi sharecroppers, Dwayne Smith, Ph.D. is a firm believer in the transformative power of education and the importance of higher education in shaping the trajectory of individuals’ socioeconomic lives.
With nearly 40 years of progressive leadership experience in higher education as an administrator and as faculty, Dr. Smith professional agenda is focused on student access and success, strategic planning, faculty and staff development, enrollment management, curriculum development, accreditation, increasing the STEM pipeline, procuring external funding, and equity in higher education. He has worked in diverse public and private institutional types: Research I, comprehensive, highly selective, independent, two-year, minority and religious serving, with student populations as high as 30,000 and as low as 1,700. Since 2008, he has secured more than $16 million in external funding for a variety of institutional priorities.
Dr. Smith currently serves as the Interim President of Southern Connecticut State University, a public institution of 10,300 students in New Haven, CT. Southern Connecticut State University provides exemplary graduate and undergraduate education in the liberal arts and professional disciplines. As an intentionally diverse and comprehensive university, Southern is committed to academic excellence, access, social justice, and service for the public good.
Prior to his appointment at Southern Connecticut State University, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Housatonic Community College, a nationally recognized institution of excellence and an Achieving the Dream leader institution in Bridgeport, Connecticut. As CEO, he has established more than 20 institutional collaborations and partnerships with local and regional organizations and companies.
Under his leadership, external funding has increased significantly. Housatonic received its largest private gift—one million dollars to establish the Housatonic Community College Peter Werth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, one of only two entrepreneurship centers at the community college level in Connecticut; The Equity Project was launched at Housatonic with a personal $10,000 commitment from Dr. Smith to aid under-resourced scholars. Taking his lead, individuals, foundations, and companies are donors and the fund now exceeds $400,000; Housatonic was awarded a one-million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to increase STEM transfer rates to four-year institutions (Dr. Smith is the Principal Investigator); The
U.S. Department of Education awarded Housatonic one million dollars to expand its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.
Under his guidance, enrollment and retention has increased, specifically for underrepresented males. In addition, Housatonic was selected by the Department of Education as a Second Chance Pell Institution, partnering with Gardner Correctional Facility in Newtown, Connecticut to provide educational opportunities to incarcerated citizens. He serves on nine boards in the Connecticut region to support philanthropy, workforce development, mental health, economic and educational endeavors.
Prior to Housatonic, Dr. Smith served as the provost and interim President of Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) in St. Louis, Missouri. He successfully led the institution through six major accreditations and secured a $5 million NSF grant, the largest award in the institution’s history.