ST. LOUIS — The president of Harris-Stowe State University has made an abrupt departure from the position less than two months after his inauguration.
St. Louis native Corey S. Bradford Sr. left for “an opportunity at a research university,” according to a news release from Harris-Stowe. His interim replacement, LaTonia Collins Smith, formerly provost and vice president of academic affairs, started Tuesday.
Bradford took over as president of the historically Black public university in May 2020, replacing Dwaun Warmack. His inauguration ceremony, postponed by the pandemic, was held on April 9 and “reflected on the president’s landmark accomplishments since he took the helm,” according to a news release from the university. Elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Cori Bush and Gov. Mike Parson, sent their well wishes.
“We have already begun this work,” Bradford said in his inaugural address. “We have harnessed the power of scholarships with a new program to offer 100 honor scholarships to top local high school students. We are graduating workforce-ready students who are actively contributing to and diversifying the workforce. We have jump-started opportunities for students to obtain a college education by opening a community impact network education center. These new initiatives are just the beginning of a rich future ahead of us.”
Warmack, who served as Harris-Stowe president from 2014 to 2020, is now president of Claflin University in South Carolina. His tenure at Harris-Stowe was marked by challenges including low graduation and freshman retention rates, discrimination lawsuits and failures to comply with federal standards on crime reporting.
Bradford previously served as a senior vice president at Prairie View A&M University in Texas and in leadership roles in the Southern Illinois University System.
He earned a doctorate in higher education administration and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in math from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
During the inauguration ceremony, Bradford was lauded by university leaders for securing “substantial donations” from Diageo North America and Verizon, and for a partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency among other financial deals.
In an interview with the Post-Dispatch in January, Bradford said he was “overjoyed” to return to his hometown of St. Louis, where he graduated from what is now Gateway STEM High School.
“My first year has been challenging due to the pandemic, but rewarding as well because of the many terrific people, our faculty and staff, students and alumni, business community and leaders, all committed to improving the St. Louis community,” Bradford said. “That’s my personal belief as a leader here, that we can make a positive difference.”