Alicia Harvey-Smith, Ph.D. has made history by becoming the first African-American president at Pittsburgh Technical College. (Photo by Harvard University)

By Tinashe Chingarande,
Special to the AFRO

Harvey-Smith began her role in 2019

Pittsburgh Technical College made history in June as it inaugurated its first ever Black president. Morgan State University alum, Alicia Harvey-Smith, Ph.D., assumed her role in 2019 but challenges onset by the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her inauguration until this year.

Alicia Harvey-Smith, Ph.D., who obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State, will now join a host of other alums from the prestigious historically Black college. Alumni who occupy the top posts at other colleges in Pennsylvania.

“It has been an honor to lead Pittsburgh Technical College for the last three years,” she said in a press release. “I am excited to celebrate all of our achievements with so many distinguished guests on campus for the public installation ceremony.”

The official ceremony was attended by various dignitaries including Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who is also a Morgan State graduate, and Sen. Devlin Robinson, (R-PA).

Since 2019, Harvey-Smith’s focus has been to build a regional talent pipeline for middle skill jobs.

Through the school’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, Harvey-Smith has spearheaded efforts to align curriculum focus with workforce demand by creating entrepreneurial programs around industry clusters reflective of the region’s and employers’ needs.

In 2020, Pittsburgh Tech partnered with the West Allegheny School District (WASD) to launch five healthcare-based dual-enrollment programs. The initiative allowed high school students to streamline their career path by obtaining college credit while still enrolled and attending high school.

“These types of innovative collaborations are a primary focus for PTC as we continue to prepare students for high demand and competitive careers throughout the world,” said Harvey-Smith in a press release. “The partnership with WASD is an exciting opportunity for the two institutions to set the course for academic growth of students and create an innovative pathway to respond to growing healthcare demands within our region.”

Harvey-Smith work has also yielded various wins for the college including a 2021 grant from the National Science Foundation that amounts to over $1 million.

The funding includes a $600,000 grant to develop training in collaboration with local career and technology centers, and roughly $650,000 to implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Over $290,000 was also granted to integrate software and machine lab instruction for high school students in Computer Aided Design (CAD), according to the school’s chair of the school of information system and technology.

Pittsburgh Tech was ranked, for the first time in its 75-year history, the 25th best northern regional college in the U.S. News & World Report 2021 list of best colleges. It also placed 16 for the least amount of accumulated debt for bachelor’s degree graduates in the northern region.

While the college has made great strides under Harvey-Smith, she has also achieved personal features including her naming to the Higher Education Research and Development Institute’s advisory board in September 2021. She also received the Pittsburgh Smart 50 award [which she said she is proud of] that is given to top executives of the 50 smartest companies in the Greater Pittsburgh region for their ability to effectively build and lead successful organizations.

“We’re taking great strides to become an educator of choice in the region through consistent, career-focused education and innovation, and this award is further validation of those efforts,” she said.

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