Shorter College (Arkansas)

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Shorter College
Former name
Bethel University (1886–1888)
Bethel Institute (1888–1892)
Shorter University (1892–1903)
"Cogito Ergo Sum"[1]
Motto in English
"I think, therefore I am"
TypePrivate historically black liberal arts junior college
Established1886 (1886)
AffiliationAfrican Methodist Episcopal Church
PresidentO. Jerome Green, Esq.[2]
Location, ,
United States
ColorsDark blue, light blue and gold[4]

Shorter College is a private, historically black, liberal arts junior college in North Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the only private historically black junior college in the United States. Shorter College was founded in 1886 as Bethel University by the Twelfth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. The college is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and offers associate degrees through its six programs.[1][5][6][7][8][9]


Shorter College began as a means to increase literacy among Arkansas's African-American population and foster their civic engagement by offering them access to education and spiritual direction once the Civil War and slavery had ended. In 1885, under presiding Bishop T. M. D Ward, the A.M.E. Church approved the establishment of a joint commission on church schools during its annual conference in Arkansas. In May 1886, five commissioners from regional state conferences were appointed to found the college as Bethel University, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Little Rock. Classes commenced in September 1886 in the basement of the church with 109 students enrolled. The school's first-elected principal and assistant teacher were A.D. Delaney and Mary Jane Murphy, respectively. Initial course offerings included teacher training.[10][11][12]

In 1888, the school was renamed Bethel Institute. In September 1891, classes recommenced at the school's new location in Arkadelphia, which was purchased with a $3,000 pledge fund.[6][11][10]

In 1892, it was renamed Shorter University to honor Bishop James Alexander Shorter, who is credited with establishing Arkansas as nationally-recognized southern hub for the A.M.E. Church.[13][14] The college received a charter two years later.[10][6]

Between 1895 and 1898, the school operated campuses in Arkadelphia and North Little Rock (formerly Argenta).[10][6] Its North Little Rock campus began in Bethel Church and had transitioned to its own property in the city by 1896.[15][6]

In 1903, the two campuses were merged at the 604 Locust Street location in North Little Rock, and the school was renamed Shorter College.[2][10][15]

Shorter College was offering courses from grades three through college by 1917, and was North Little Rock's only high school for black students until 1928.[6] For a time, the college operated as a four-year institution until 1955, when it reverted back to its status as a two-year institution due to financial constraints.[2][10][6]

In 1981, Shorter College attained full accreditation, which required to establish transfer agreements with four-year institutions in Arkansas. The agreements would allow students to transfer their Shorter College credits to a four-year institution after completing an associate degree at Shorter College.[6]

After a period of decline caused by internal political division and debt throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Shorter College lost accreditation and federal funding in 1998. By 2000, after enrollment had significantly decreased and its buildings were shuttered, Shorter College had entered into an agreement with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff that offered accredited courses to Shorter College students. By 2011, after years of fundraising and debt cancellations, Shorter College reopened its facilities and earned accreditation candidacy through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.[6]

In 2013, the college attained full accreditation.[6][8]

Administration and organization[edit]

Shorter College's parent organization is the Twelfth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. The college is organized under a board of trustees, with the presiding bishop of the Twelfth Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church as chairman. The majority of the board members, who are clergy or lay members, are elected through the four annual Arkansas A.M.E. Church conferences. The president of Shorter College is an ex-officio member who reports to the board through the Twelfth Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church.[2]

Shorter College offers six degree programs: Childhood Development, Christian Leadership, Criminal Justice, General Studies, Entrepreneurial Studies and Computer Science.[2][9]

A typical academic year contains two 15-week terms during the fall (August–December) and spring (January–April). There are two accelerated four-week summer sessions that run from May to June and June to July. An academic year begins on the first day of the fall term and ends on the last day of the second summer term.[16][17]

Academics and programs[edit]

Shorter College has an open admissions policy.[8][10]

The college offers early entry and dual enrollment programs to local high school students.[2]

Since 2016, Shorter College has participated in the Second Chance Pell program, an initiative that offers Pell Grants to students who are incarcerated.[2][18][19]

Student life[edit]

Student body[edit]

As of fall 2020, Shorter College's student body consists of 223 students. There are 89 percent full time and 11 percent part time students.[8]

Demographics of student body in fall 2020[8]
Full and Part Time Students U.S. Census[a][20]
International 0% N/A
Multiracial American 0% 2.8%
Black/African American 85% 13.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0% 1.3%
Asian 0% 5.9%
Non-Hispanic White American 13% 60.1%
Hispanic/Latino American 1% 18.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0% 0.2%
Other/Unknown 0% N/A


The following student groups operate at Shorter College: Black Male Initiative, Health and Wellness Club, National Association of Black Men United, Phi Beta Lambda and Student Government Association.[21]


Everyone listed prior to 1893 served as a principal only.[2][6][15]

  • Professor A. D. Delaney, 1887–1890
  • Professor John R. Rector, 1890–1890[b]
  • Professor S. T. Boyd, 1891–1893
  • B. W. Arnett, Jr., 1893–1894
  • T. H. Jackson, 1895–1897
  • F. T. Vinegar, 1897–1898
  • Dr. J. A. McGivary Jones, 1898–1900
  • T. H. Jackson, 1900–1904
  • Dr. P. W. Walls, 1904–1904[c]
  • Rev. A. H. Hill, 1904–1912
  • Rev. O. L. Moody, 1912–1914
  • Dr. William Byrd, 1914–1917
  • Rev. J. N. Campbell, 1917–1919
  • Rev. S. L. Green, 1919–?
  • Theophilus D. Alexander
  • A. O. Wilson, 1958–1960
  • Dr. H. Solomon Hill, 1960–1968
  • Rev. Lonnie L. Johnson, 1970–1971
  • Oley L. Griffin, 1972–1977
  • R.J. Hampton, 1977–1980
  • Rev. John L. Phillips, Sr., 1980–1987
  • Dr. H. Benjamin Williams, 1987–1988
  • Dr. W. Dean Goldsby, 1988–1989
  • Dr. Katherine P. Mitchell, 1989–1997
  • Dr. Irma Hunter Brown, 1998–2001
  • Dr. Cora D. McHenry, 2002–?
  • Lillie Alexis
  • Dr. Katherine P. Mitchell, ?–2012

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ People who identify as Hispanic/Latino are included in applicable race categories.
  2. ^ Rector resigned after three days to become a government clerk. Assistant Mary Jane Murphy served as the interim principal.[15]
  3. ^ Walls resigned.
  4. ^ Stanton was elected as Democratic Party candidate in 1932 and 1934. He helped organize African-American support for the Democratic Party in Lake County, Indiana.[27]


  1. ^ a b "About". Shorter College. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shorter College Academic Catalog 2020–2021" (PDF). Shorter College. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  3. ^ "News & Events". Shorter College. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Shorter College Media Guide 2016" (PDF). Shorter College. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Case Study: Shorter College". Ricoh. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Encyclopedia of Arkansas". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  7. ^ Jackson, Cynthia L.; Nunn, Eleanor F. (2003). Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-85109-422-6. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e "College Navigator - Shorter College". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Degree Programs". Shorter College. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Townsend, Barbara (24 December 2002). Two-Year Colleges for Women and Minorities: Enabling Access to the Baccalaureate. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-135-57948-7. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  11. ^ a b Hill, Samuel S. (1983). On Jordan's Stormy Banks: Religion in the South : a Southern Exposure Profile. Mercer University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-86554-060-6. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  12. ^ Williams, Johnny E. (2003). African American Religion and the Civil Rights Movement in Arkansas. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-60473-584-0. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  13. ^ "African Methodist Episcopal Church". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  14. ^ Kirk, John (31 January 2016). "African American Higher Education- Shorter College". KUAR. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d Smith, Charles Spencer (1922). A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church: Being a Volume Supplemental to A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Book Concern of the A.M.E. Church. pp. 362–363. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Academic Calendar 2021-2022" (PDF). Shorter College. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Academic Calendar 2020 Spring and Summer" (PDF). Shorter College. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  18. ^ Wexler, Ellen (24 June 2016). "U.S. expands Pell Grant program to 12,000 in prison". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  19. ^ Simpson, Stephen (3 December 2018). "State partnering colleges with prisons; U.S. experiment studies learning's effect on inmates". Arkansas Online. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  20. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Student Activities". Shorter College. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  22. ^ "Irma Jean Hunter Brown". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  23. ^ "Biography of James Cone | James Cone Symposium". Northwestern University. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  24. ^ Adams, Rebecca Feldhaus (28 April 2018). "James H. Cone, Founder Of Black Liberation Theology, Dies At 79". NPR. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  25. ^ "Alex Hill Songs, Albums, Reviews, Bio & More". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Obituary: E. Melvin Porter, LLB'59". Vanderbilt University. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  27. ^ "Robert L. Stanton". Indiana Legislator Database. Indiana General Assembly. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  28. ^ "Alphonso E. "Phonnie" Trent". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 20 January 2022.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°45′34″N 92°15′38″W / 34.75931°N 92.26050°W / 34.75931; -92.26050