Virginia Union University Appoints Veteran HBCU Leader Dr. Roderick L. Smothers as Executive Director of its Center for the Study and Preservation of HBCUs

September 20, 2023

RICHMOND, VA --- September 14, 2023] — Virginia Union University President and CEO Dr. Hakim J. Lucas is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., as the Executive Director of the Center for the Study and Preservation of HBCUs / Professor of Education and Special Assistant to the President.   

"Dr. Roderick Smothers embodies the values and aspirations that define VUU. We welcome leaders whose goals align perfectly with our institution's mission and vision, and we believe Dr. Smothers' energy and innovative thinking will greatly enhance our efforts to provide the best possible education and opportunities for our students," said President Lucas.     

In the role of Executive Director of the Center for the Study and Preservation of HBCUs at Virginia Union, Dr. Smothers is looking forward to carrying out President Lucas' vision of a best-in-class center that makes meaningful contributions toward the advancement of transformation, competitiveness, and excellence within Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  

Dr. Smothers is a veteran higher education professional with 29 years of experience providing transformative leadership, results-driven strategic advocacy, resource development, and building institutional capacity at our nation's HBCUs.  

For the last nine years, he served as President and CEO of Philander Smith College (now Philander Smith University), where he successfully strengthened the institution's academic programs, enhanced its local and national profile, increased enrollment, improved retention, increased donor giving, and developed an array of innovative programs and student-centered initiatives. Through the collaborative work of his leadership team, Philander Smith realized its ten-year strategic vision of master's degree offerings and recently transitioned from college to university status.    

An accomplished fundraiser and relationship builder, Dr. Smothers has worked extensively with individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, foundations, and federal, regional, and state agencies on behalf of the institutions he has represented. He holds a cumulative fundraising/grant writing record that exceeds $400 million.   

Dr. Smothers previously served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at two historically Black universities, Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, and Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma. A native of Vidalia, Louisiana, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, a Master's Degree in Public Administration (with a concentration in Higher Education Administration), and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling, all from Louisiana State University.    

Contact: Erika Roache 
Director of Public Relations