Philander Smith College

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Philander Smith College
U.M. Rose School.JPG
TypePrivate, HBCU
Established1877: Walden Seminary
1882: Philander Smith College
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Endowment$3 million
PresidentRoderick L. Smothers, Ph.D.
Location, ,
United States
ColorsGreen and Gold

Philander Smith College is a private historically black college, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Philander Smith College is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is a founding member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Philander Smith College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.


Philander Smith College was officially founded in 1877 under the name of Walden Seminary to provide educational opportunities for freed slaves west of the Mississippi River. In 1882 the school was renamed Philander Smith College in honor of the financial contributions of Adeline Smith, widow of Philander Smith. It was chartered as a four-year college in 1883 and conferred its first bachelor's degree in 1888. In 1933, it merged the assets of the George R. Smith College in Sedalia, Missouri, which burned down in 1925.[1] In 1943, Philander Smith was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Philander Smith College was a pioneer in activism: many of its students engaged in nonviolent resistance against segregation laws or customs (such as sitting in at "whites-only" lunch counters).

Rankings and Education Conservancy[edit]

Dr. Walter Kimbrough, former president of Philander Smith College, joined the Education Conservancy in criticizing the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings; he signed a letter circulating among college presidents that asks them to refrain from participating in the peer assessment portion of the survey.[2][3]


Philander Smith College Historic District
LocationRoughly bounded by 13th, 11th, Izard, and State Sts., Little Rock, Arkansas
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectAlmand, John Parks
Architectural styleColonial Revival, Bungalow/Craftsman, et al
NRHP reference No.99000229[4]
Added to NRHPSeptember 13, 1999

The school campus is located in central Little Rock. Interstate 630 (the Mills Freeway) was constructed just north of the campus, which is bounded by 10th and 14th streets to the north and south, and Gaines and Chester streets to the east and west. The core of the campus was originally built for Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock), and a two-block section of it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of its centerpieces is the former U.M. Rose School building, now the Cox Administration Building, designed by the noted Arkansas architect John Parks Almand in 1915, when he was working for Charles L. Thompson. The campus also includes the "Old Gym", a gymnasium built by the WPA during the Great Depression; and a former barracks building of the Camp Robinson Air Force Base, which was moved here in 1948.[5]


Philander Smith teams, nicknamed the Panthers, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Men's sports include basketball and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, track & field and volleyball.

Philander Smith's 2012–13 men's basketball team made history by bringing home their 1st Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) tournament title.[6]

On Feb. 21, 1989, Philander Smith gained a 92–89 victory over Rust College of Holly Springs, Mississippi, on their court, ending the longest home-court winning streak in NCAA Division III women's basketball history.

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
"Geese" Ausbie former Harlem Globetrotters player and coach
Al Bell founder of Stax Records and former president of Motown Records
Isaac M. Burgan President of Paul Quinn College from 1883–1891, 1911–1914
James Hal Cone 1958 major figure in systematic theology and liberation theology
L. Clifford Davis 1945 civil rights, attorney, judge [7]
Joycelyn Elders 1952 former Surgeon General of the United States
Stephanie Flowers Arkansas State Senator since 2011 and former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Pine Bluff [8]
Scipio Africanus Jones coursework before transfer to Shorter College lawyer and businessman
Calvin King 1975 farm developmer, and the President of the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corp
Amina Claudine Myers musician [9]
Elijah Pitts 1961 former Green Bay Packers player
Lottie Shackelford former mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas
Robert L. Williams 1953 prominent figure in the history of African-American psychology
Deon Cole comedian

Notable faculty[edit]

Name Department Notability Reference
Lee Lorch mathematician and civil rights activist
Georg Iggers historian 10

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kamara, Margaret (28 June 2007). "Are U.S. News Rankings Inherently Biased Against Black Colleges?". Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Growing Challenge to 'U.S. News'". Inside Higher Ed. 18 May 2007.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "NRHP nomination for Philander Smith College Historic District". Arkansas Preservation. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  6. ^ "Panthers Bring the GCAC Championship Home". Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  7. ^ Kilpatrick, Judith. "Desegregating the University of Arkansas School of Law: L. Clifford Davis and the Six Pioneers" (PDF). Arkansas Black Lawyers. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Stephanie Anne Flowers". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  9. ^ Lewis, George E. (2008). A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. University of Chicago Press. pp. 127–128.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°44′13″N 92°16′57″W / 34.73686°N 92.28249°W / 34.73686; -92.28249