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HOUSTON –  “I believe that education is the key to helping young people find their way out of poverty, it opens doors and prepares them to overcome all manner of challenges with confidence. I am passionate about finding ways to connect young people and not so young people to the power of education. So, whether it’s a degree or training and development, I believe education inspires hope, opens doors and it illuminates opportunities.”

These words were rendered by one of the newest members to Lone Star College. Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith was appointed as the Executive Vice Chancellor of Lone Star College. African-American News Issues was privileged to conduct an interview with the accomplished educator. Read on to learn more about this passionate and inspiring leader within the academic community.

Alicia Harvey-Smith hails from Baltimore, Maryland. She was raised with five brothers and two sisters by loving parents, the late Zelma Marie and Ned Harvey. While her parents did not attend college, they understood the power of education and hard work. As a result, they encouraged their children to excel and to be the very best in whatever field they chose to enter. This concept assisted young Alicia with understanding early on that education was going to be the key to her success. Therefore, she made preparations following her graduation from Western High School, the oldest public all-girls high school remaining in the nation, founded in 1844, to continue her education and her contributions to academic excellence.

She enrolled at Morgan State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. While attending Morgan State, she met and married the love of her life, Donald Wayne Smith, an ROTC cadet and history major. After completing her undergraduate studies, she achieved a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from The John Hopkins University. She then matriculated at the University of Maryland where she ultimately attained a Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services.

Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith’s – Overview of Commitment to Education:

Dr. Harvey-Smith began her “calling to serve” over two decades ago. In the beginning of her professional career, she worked as a Basic Skills Educator for the United States Army, through Central Texas College when her husband was stationed at Fort Polk in Vernon Parish, Louisiana. After-which time she served as a Special Educator in K12 public education in Baltimore, before she and her husband relocated to New Jersey, when her husband was stationed at Fort Dix Army Base. While there, she secured employment at Burlington County College in Pemberton, New Jersey as a Coordinator and Instructor. Upon leaving New Jersey, they returned to Baltimore where she dedicated many years to Baltimore City Community College, where she served first as a counselor and swiftly soared through the professional ranks.

After-which time, she was recruited to take on deanships at the Community College of Baltimore County, designated at that time as a Vanguard Learning Institution. She labored as the dean of Learning Support Systems and dean of Learning & Student Development, consecutively. In 2008, she was called upon to serve as vice president of Student Affairs and returned to Baltimore City Community College. She operated in that capacity until 2013, when she was appointed to serve as the president and CEO of River Valley Community College in New Hampshire. River Valley Community College, which had at the time of her arrival two locations in Claremont and Keene.

During her tenure as President, Dr. Harvey-Smith expanded partnerships with business and industry, achieved significant success in fundraising, led the college’s first-ever Development Campaign, acquiring much needed scholarship dollars and equipment, while heightening the college’s visibility and support locally and nationally. Her leadership helped to transform the colleges’ culture by establishing an infrastructure focused on student access, student success, teaching and learning, and sustainability. Making important capital improvements and expansions; under her guidance the college acquired funding, and negotiated the opening of its new academic center in Lebanon, NH which expanded access within its service area. During her time as President, River Valley Community College increased enrollment, gained specialized accreditations and revitalized its nursing program regaining national accreditation. After a very successful career in Baltimore and most recently New Hampshire, Dr. Harvey-Smith relocated to Houston to become a part of Lone Star College.

In Dr. Harvey-Smith’s current role as Executive Vice Chancellor of Lone Star College, in addition to holding the number two seat in one of the fastest growing community college systems in the nation, she is directly responsible for one of its large divisions, providing leadership for the Office of Academic Affairs and Student Success, administering a broad range of operations related to the support of the instructional units at each of the six colleges; system-wide leadership for student success programs and services; the Office of Completion, Lone Star College-Online, Lone Star College–Jakarta Indonesia, International, Honors and Engagement Programs, Student Services, The Office of Strategic Planning & Assessment, as well as, leadership for Texas Completes, Lone Star College -University Centers,  Workforce Education and Corporate Partnerships to advance growing Texas industries.

She is responsible for supporting the success of Lone Star College students, faculty and staff and working with college leadership to develop strategies and align resources in support of Lone Star College’s mission and the communities they serve. The opportunity to assist with creating systems and processes to aid student learning and success is a joy that the Executive Vice Chancellor is elated to have. Dr. Harvey-Smith expressed that she is excited about her new role at Lone Star College and sees it as an opportunity to make a difference. She believes the college and its campuses are simply great places to learn with exceptional leadership.

She said, “I have had the privilege to work with some of the finest colleges and leaders around the country, but there is something very special about Lone Star College; and certainly the commitment that the College Chancellor has to the community is remarkable.” She continued, “I came here because of the innovative and exemplary work Lone Star College was doing to support its students and communities and am excited to work with Dr. Stephen C. Head, one of the nations’ finest educators and leaders. His passion and commitment to Lone Star College and the community is contagious. His vision is to make Lone Star College, a place where students want to learn and people want to work. A community of learning and excellence.”

Mentors and Inspirations

Throughout the years, Dr. Harvey-Smith has been fortunate to have various mentors and individuals in her life that have helped to motivate and inspire her. Firstly, she reverences her mother as being the most giving and loving person that she has ever met in her life, even until this day.  She said, “My mother worked so hard to help people and her selfless giving; is what inspires and pushes me today. 

No matter what she was working on, she always had time for others and to give back. One of the best examples of this unselfish giving would be that three of my siblings were foster kids raised devotedly by my parents. My mom specifically lavished much love and attention on them and we were so proud to have them as part of the family. It was their family in the truest sense of the word.”   It is evident through the life-long commitment to help others through education that Dr. Harvey-Smith has exemplified that she has made good on the trait inherited from her mother.

She also referred to another dear mentor and professional colleague, Dr. Wilfredo Nieves. Dr. Nieves worked at Baltimore City Community College with Dr. Harvey- Smith early in her career and has been a steady influence. He serves now as the president of Capital College in Connecticut.  Described by her as a “compassionate and talented leader” who has continued to mentor her throughout her professional career. Dr. Harvey-Smith is also an active mentor and has volunteered time working in the community with youth programs, serving on boards and numerous educational councils.

Advice to the African-American Community:

When asked what advice she would give to the African-American Community, Dr. Harvey-Smith offered the following. “Recognize how important you truly are and the profound contributions made by our community and strive to build positively onto that legacy.” She added, “Preparation and planning are critical to success, first believe it can be done, second make a plan to get it done and third work your plan and get it done”. “I also encourage you to give back whenever and wherever you can. Giving back, has little to do with how much you have materially, volunteer in schools, help the elderly, do what you can do. Everyone has something to give to make the community better.”

Dr. Harvey-Smith as an ethical and proven leader, who has no doubt faced some challenges along the way. When asked, what advice she would give to help others overcome challenges. She said, “Every journey comes with its share of challenges that should be expected. Challenges are a test and often come to teach us important lessons. They are not an indicator of your worth. Doing difficult or challenging periods, it is important to remain optimistic “never lose sight of your value and never stop believing in yourself or your ability to make it through; no matter how things appear.” This level of hope and faith are essential during those valley moments. Stay focused on the plan and goals you have set and if needed get support to move through these periods successfully.”

When asked, Dr. Harvey Smith also shared these wholesome words of empowerment. She said, “we are the sum total of all of our experiences. These experiences make us who we are and should be valued and celebrated.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Marian Wright Edelman which states, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it”. I find great inspiration in her words, which so clearly underscores the transformational role of education and lies at the core of the Community College mission.  We exist to support the communities we serve, to pull people up, to give them hope and to position them for greatness, thereby influencing families, communities and the world for the good.”

Over the years, Dr. Harvey Smith has been awarded with numerous honors and distinctions. Just recently, she was appointed and served on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Executive Board. She also, serves on AACC’s Commission on Academic, Student and Community Development and The Legislative Advocacy Advisory Group.

Dr. Harvey-Smith is a noted speaker and author with several publications. They include: The Seventh Learning College Principle: A Framework for Transformational Change and The Adoption of the Learning Paradigm in Student Affairs Divisions of Vanguard Community Colleges: A Case Analysis”, which is cited in Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success”. Her research emerged the Seventh Learning College Principle, encouraging institutions to create and nurture organizational cultures that are open and responsive to change and learning. Her most recent publication is Eclectic Insights (Part 1); a composition of Poetry and Essays spanning three decades. She recently finalized a manuscript entitled: CARE – Compassion, Appreciation, Respect and Empowerment: Essential Leadership Standards, which is being scheduled for future release.

Additionally, Dr. Harvey-Smith has provided oversight for non-credit and workforce development programs, worked successfully in senior level student affairs and academic affairs positions, and held a variety of academic and administrative roles in education, including: Community College Counselor, Program Director Faculty and Guest Lecturer at the university level.

Dr. Harvey Smith has been married for 33 years to Major Donald W. Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.) and who served for 20 years on The United States Capitol Police. She holds a certificate from the Harvard University School of Education Competitively-Selected Presidents Institute and she was a member of Wayland Baptist Church in Baltimore. African-American News & Issues salutes Dr. Harvey-Smith for the many tireless years of service she has extended to the field of education.

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Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 95,000 students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of $3.1 billion. LSC consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.

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