Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College
Type Private, HBCU
Established 1877: Walden Seminary
1882: Philander Smith College
Endowment $3 million
President Roderick L. Smothers, Ph.D.
Students 760
Location Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Colors Green and Gold
Affiliations United Methodist Church

Philander Smith College is a private historically black college, four-year undergraduate liberal arts institution, located in Little Rock, Arkansas . Philander Smith College is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and a founding member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Philander Smith College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Mission of Philander Smith College is, "To graduate academically accomplished students who are grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better." [1]


Philander Smith College was officially founded in 1877 under the name of Walden Seminary as a means of providing education opportunities for freed slaves west of the Mississippi River. The school was renamed Philander Smith College in 1882 to recognize the financial contributions of Adeline Smith, widow of Philander Smith. The college 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.[2] In 1943, Philander Smith was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Philander Smith College was a pioneer during the civil rights movement as many of its students engaged in nonviolent resistance against segregation laws (such as sitting in at "whites-only" lunch counters).

Rankings and Education Conservancy

Former Philander Smith President Dr. Walter Kimbrough joined the Education Conservancy in its criticism of U.S. News and World Report college rankings by signing a letter circulating among college presidents that asks them not to participate in the peer assessment portion of the survey.[3][4]


Philander Smith College Historic District
Location Roughly bounded by 13th, 11th, Izard, and State Sts., Little Rock, Arkansas
Area less than one acre
Architect Almand, John Parks
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Bungalow/Craftsman, et al
NRHP Reference # 99000229[5]
Added to NRHP September 13, 1999

The school campus is located in central Little Rock, just south of Interstate 630 (the Mills Freeway), and 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 WPA-built gymnasium, and a former barracks building of the Camp Robinson Air Force Base, which was moved here in 1948.[6]


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 College Panther 2012-2013 Men's basketball team made history by bringing home their 1st Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) tournament title.[7]

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

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
"Geese" Ausbie former Harlem Globetrotters player and coach
James Hal Cone 1958 major figure in systematic theology and liberation theology
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]
Calvin King 1975 farm developmer, and the President of the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corp
Lottie Shackelford former mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas
Elijah Pitts 1961 former Green Bay Packers player
Al Bell founder of Stax Records and former president of Motown Records
Robert L. Williams 1953 prominent figure in the history of African-American psychology
Scipio Africanus Jones coursework before transfer to Shorter College lawyer and businessman

Notable faculty

Name Department Notability Reference
Lee Lorch mathematician and civil rights activist

See also


  1. "About Philander". Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  2. Kamara, Margaret (28 June 2007). "Are U.S. News Rankings Inherently Biased Against Black Colleges?". Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
  3. "Growing Challenge to 'U.S. News'". Inside Higher Ed. 18 May 2007.
  4. National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. "NRHP nomination for Philander Smith College Historic District" (PDF). Arkansas Preservation. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  6. "Panthers Bring the GCAC Championship Home". Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  7. "Stephanie Anne Flowers". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
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Coordinates: 34°44′13″N 92°16′57″W / 34.73686°N 92.28249°W / 34.73686; -92.28249

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