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March 31, 2023

Housatonic leader tapped as interim president of SCSU


A state community college leader has been selected to serve as interim president at Southern Connecticut State University.

Dwayne Smith, who has served as CEO of Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport since 2020, will start his new role on June 1.

Current SCSU President Joe Bertolino is departing at the end of the spring semester, as he has accepted a position as president of Stockton University in New Jersey. Bertolino will work closely in the coming weeks with Smith to ensure a smooth transition.

Smith has a long background in academia. He previously served as provost and later as interim president for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Mo.

Terrence Cheng, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said in an announcement that Smith has deep experience at the university level as a faculty member and as an administrator.

Cheng noted that Smith has helped secure millions of dollars in grant funding during his career. Since 2008, Smith has secured more than $16 million in external funding, according to his biography.

The grandson of Mississippi sharecroppers, Smith has garnered many awards, including being recognized as one of the Connecticut NAACP’s 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut in 2021. 

“He has the skill and experience to be a highly successful leader for the Southern community,” Cheng said, in an announcement. “He is deeply committed to the university’s mission as a social justice institution. He understands the transformational power of public higher education and the awesome responsibility that comes with educating our students.”

Smith led Housatonic during its transition from an independent accredited college to a campus within the Connecticut State Community College system while navigating the pandemic. Smith also has been credited with increasing enrollment and retention during his tenure. He has lectured around the world on educational topics.

“I am thrilled to be taking on a new challenge at SCSU, a university with a deep commitment to social justice and economic mobility,” Smith said.

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