History and Mission
Philander Smith College is a small, privately supported, historically Black, four-year
liberal arts institution related to the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of
the United Methodist Church. The college offers four degrees: the bachelor of arts,
the bachelor of science, the bachelor of business administration, and the bachelor
of social work.
The college’s mission is to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded
as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better.
Philander Smith College, the only United Negro College Fund member institution in
Arkansas, strives to provide a quality education for all regardless of race, religion,
sex, national origin or ethnic background.
Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is the result of the first attempt west of
the Mississippi River to make education available to freedmen (former African American
slaves). The forerunner of the college was Walden Seminary, named in honor of Dr.
J.M. Walden, one of the originators and the first corresponding secretary of the Freedmen’s
In 1882, Dr. G.W. Gray, president of Little Rock University, the institution for the
Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, met Mrs. Adeline Smith,
widow of Mr. Philander Smith of Oak Park, Ill., while soliciting funds. The late Philander
Smith had been a liberal donor to Asiatic Missions and had developed an interest in
the work of the church in the South. In making her gift to Dr. Gray, Mrs. Smith designated
$10,500 for Walden Seminary. The trustees accepted the gift and gave it special recognition
by changing the name of the struggling Walden Seminary to Philander Smith College.
A new site for the school had already been purchased at Eleventh and Izard Streets.
The gift made by Mrs. Smith was a significant contribution towards the construction
of Budlong Hall, the first brick building on the new site.
Philander Smith College was chartered as a four-year college on March 3, 1883. The
first baccalaureate degree was conferred in 1888. The first president, the Rev. Thomas
Mason, resigned in 1896. He was succeeded by a member of the faculty of the college,
Rev. James Monroe Cox, professor of ancient languages. Dr. Cox retired from the presidency of the college
in 1924, and was succeeded by the
Rev. George Collins Taylor, a graduate of the college. Dr. Taylor served as president from 1924 to 1936.
In May 1936,
Dr. Marquis LaFayette Harris succeeded Dr. Taylor as president. During the administration of Dr. Harris, the campus
area was greatly enlarged. In July 1948 the site of the Little Rock Junior College,
adjacent to the South end of Philander Smith’s campus, was purchased. On March 30,
1949, after an extensive program of academic improvement, Philander Smith College
was fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Dr.
Harris was succeeded by
Dr. Roosevelt David Crockett, a graduate of the institution, on June 1, 1961.
Dr. Earnest Dixon, Philander Smith’s sixth president, took office Jan. 1, 1965. He was succeeded by
Dr. Walter R. Hazzard, who took office as the seventh president of the college on July 1, 1969. Dr. Hazzard
was succeeded by
Dr. Grant S. Shockley who took office as the eighth president on Jan. 1, 1980. Dr. Shockley was succeeded
Dr. Hazo W. Carter, who
was elected unanimously July 19, 1983 by the Board of Trustees, and took office Aug.
Dr. Carter resigned the presidency in August 1987. He was succeeded by
Dr. Myer L. Titus, a 1954 graduate of the institution. Upon Dr. Titus’s retirement on June 30, 1998,
Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed was elected by the Board of Trustees in February 1998, becoming the eleventh and
first female president of Philander Smith College.
In the summer of 2004,
Dr. Julius Scott was appointed by the Board of Trustees to serve as the interim president while the
college completed a national search for the next president in the wake of Dr. Reed’s
resignation. In October 2004, the Board announced the selection of
Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough as the 12th president and he took office on Dec. 13, 2004
In the spring of 2012,
Dr. Johnny Moore, a 1989 graduate of Philander Smith College was appointed by our Board of Trustees
as our 13th president.