Philander Smith College Announces Trustee Appointments

Philander Smith College announces the appointment of two new members to its Board of Trustees, Dr. Tionna Jenkins and Mr. Bob Bailey, both of Little Rock, whose terms began June 1, 2018.  


Dr. Tionna Jenkins, an Arkansas native and 2001 graduate of Philander Smith College, has over 15 years of public health policy experience and serves as Senior Advisor of Health Equity with the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI). In this role, she oversees key partnerships and strategies which address health disparities. Her work has resulted in $41.3 million in preventative investments at the state level. 

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Philander Smith College, Jenkins went on to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where she earned a Master’s degree in Public Health with a specialization in Health Policy. She obtained a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Mr. Bob Bailey currently serves as President of Bailey Construction. A registered professional engineer, he has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry in Arkansas and is a member of the National Society for Professional Engineers. Prior to founding Bailey Construction in 2011, he served more than 20 years at Vratsinas Construction Company (VCC) in a number of roles, including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Bailey attended the University of Cincinnati where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. His civic involvement includes serving on the Care Link Board of Directors and playing active leadership roles at both Cabot United Methodist Church and St. James United Methodist Church of Little Rock.

Announcing the 130th Commencement of Philander Smith College

Award-winning author and political commentator Sophia A. Nelson is slated as speaker.

Little Rock, Ark. (April 25, 2018) ---  Philander Smith College (PSC) will hold its 130th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 5, at 10:00 a.m. in the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

 Author and Journalist Sophia A. Nelson to serve as 2018 Commencement Speaker

Author and Journalist Sophia A. Nelson to serve as 2018 Commencement Speaker

Award-winning author, journalist and political commentator Sophia A. Nelson will deliver the 2018 Commencement address. A dynamic, independent-minded MSNBC commentator and NBC News Contributor, Nelson is also a former Congressional Committee Investigative Counsel, an award-winning author and journalist based in the nation's Capitol. She covered the Obama White House, specifically First Lady Michelle Obama from 2010-2012. She is also a Corporate "Diversity Champion" award winner, and a highly sought corporate speaker, diversity and inclusion trainer in the Fortune 100. Nelson is also a well-respected thought leader who speaks all around the world engaging women, leaders, politicians and academics. Her most recent book, “E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders Vision for a United America" (Jan 2017), takes readers inside the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the issue of race in America since our beginnings in 1776.

In addition to Nelson’s keynote address, Philander Smith College will also award three honorary degrees. The recipients include: Retired Educator and State Senator Linda Pondexter-Chesterfield (AR-District 34); Community Leader and Retired Educator Mary Louise Williams; and Immediate Past PSC Executive Vice President Darnell Williams, Ph.D., Noted Retired Higher Education Expert.

 Approximately 120 degrees will be conferred upon students graduating from the institution. Immediately following the graduation ceremony, the college will sponsor a luncheon held at the campus to allow faculty, staff, students, and the local community the chance to celebrate with graduates and their families.

PSC All-Stars Compete in HCASC National Championships


The PSC Honda Campus All-Stars team traveled to California on April 7th - 11th to compete at the HCASC National Championships. The team competed among a select number of institutions that qualified for the National Competition. Though they did not place in this year's competition, they did earn a $3,000 grant and were joined in California by President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., who offered support and encouragement. Led by Ms. Shannon Clowney-Johnson, Interim Director of the McKinley Newton Honors Program, the team already has their sights on returning to the national competition in 2019 and is recruiting new team members and coaches.

PSC Hosts New Speaker Series Centered on Public Health Issues

 President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., pictured with Dr. Joycelyn Elders, '52, and Dr. James Hildreth, 12th President and CEO of Meharry Medical College.

President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., pictured with Dr. Joycelyn Elders, '52, and Dr. James Hildreth, 12th President and CEO of Meharry Medical College.

Philander Smith College kicked-off its new speaker series, the Dr. Joycelyn Elders Distinguished Lecture Series on Wednesday, April 11th. Named for the 1952 alumna and first African American to serve as United States Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the ongoing series is designed to educate the community on some of the most critical issues facing public health and healthcare with an emphasis on those matters most prevalent in minorities.

The inaugural session featured Dr. James Hildreth, the 12th President and CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. a 142 year-old institution, Meharry is the nation's largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center in the nation. Dr. Hildreth shared with the audience of over 100 students, Little Rock medical professionals, and community members statistics on the impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the African American community. 

Be on the lookout for more information regarding the next Dr. Joycelyn Elders Distinguished Lecture, which is a program of the new Dr. Joycelyn Elders School of Allied and Public Health.

Relaunched PSC Social Justice Institute hosts 'Law & Justice Summit'

 Panelists discuss ideas for reformation and the impact citizens can have on policy-making.

Panelists discuss ideas for reformation and the impact citizens can have on policy-making.

Some of the foremost advocates, policymakers and legal minds in the region came together to tackle the issue of mass incarceration and the need for substantial criminal justice reform in the state of Arkansas during the inaugural Law and Justice Summit hosted by the Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College on Thursday, March 15th.

 Brittany White of Faith in Texas discussed incarceration issues for women.

Brittany White of Faith in Texas discussed incarceration issues for women.

The room full of attendees, which included local organizers, policy makers, business leaders, PSC students and concerned citizens, heard key presentations highlighting viewpoints on some of the most pressing issues, as well as participated in a discussion panel on criminal justice reform. Prominent political and social justice advocates featured during the event include Dr. LaVerne Bell-Tolliver of the UALR Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity, Brittany White of Faith in Texas and Attorney Omavi Shukur. Speakers analyzed how equitable policy-making, engaging directly-impacted individuals and significant community investment strategies can build strong and healthy communities.

Learn more about the reimagined Social Justice Institute at

Honoring High School Scholars for Academic Excellence

 High School Honorees Attend the 2018 Ceremony

High School Honorees Attend the 2018 Ceremony

For the third year, Philander Smith College honored over 200 student scholars from local high schools at its annual African American High School Honors Ceremony on Sunday, February 25, as a part of its 2018 Black History Month events.

The event, which was created to help recognize academic excellence in the African American community, celebrates African American high school seniors with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher from the Little Rock School District, North Little Rock School District, Pulaski County Special School District, Lighthouse Academies, Cabot High School, eStem Public Charter High School and other high schools in the Central Arkansas area. In addition to recognition for their scholastic achievements, Philander Smith also awarded a total of approx. $7.2 million in scholarships to students who qualified.

Mr. Frank D. Scott, Jr., a native of Little Rock and executive at First Security Bank, served as the keynote speaker for this year's ceremony to close out Black History Month activities.

Philander Smith College to Honor “Living Legends” at Annual Recognition Banquet

Little Rock, Ark. (January 24, 2018) – Philander Smith College has announced the honorees for  the 11th Annual Living Legends Banquet which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 22, 2018  in the Nugent Room at the Harry R. Kendall Science and Health Mission Center on the college’s campus. 

This year’s Living Legend honorees include: Alumna and first African American female United States Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn M. Elders; revered basketball coach and community leader Oliver B. Elders; former PSC Board Chairwoman and Retired Arkansas Community Foundation President Pat Lile; educator and local businessman Leon Adams; renowned musician and longtime pastor Bishop Kenneth Robinson, Sr.; PSC Professor of Religion and Philosophy Dr. James Rush; retired PSC staff member Juanita Wilkins; in addition to current PSC student and Miss Philander Smith College Brittany Taylor

The Living Legends Banquet is the culmination of Philander Smith College’s annual Religious Emphasis Week (February 19-24, 2018) which engages students, faculty, staff, and the community in activities and programming designed to provide opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth. Through the Living Legends Banquet, the College strives to give distinction to individuals who are serving God by serving the community. Honorees are comprised of community leaders, Philander Smith faculty, staff, alumni and a PSC current student.

The Living Legends Banquet is our opportunity to recognize local, community and religious servants for their legacy of leadership from a social justice perspective. Each honoree is an ambassador for the common good of all of God’s people.” says Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, Philander Smith College Chaplain and Dean of Religious Life and Campus Culture. “We are extremely proud of the growth of this program throughout the years. Since the Banquet’s inception we have taken tremendous delight from honoring these individuals whose sacrifices and dedication have helped to uplift our communities.”

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For sponsorship information, tickets, or questions regarding the Living Legends Banquet, please contact the Office of Religious Life and Campus Culture at 501-370-5344.

In Memory of Dr. Georg G. Iggers


The entire Community of Scholars at Philander Smith College (PSC) is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Georg G. Iggers, a distinguished educator and prominent Civil Rights Activist.  Dr. Iggers, who served as an Associate Professor in Modern Languages and History at Philander Smith College from 1950 to 1957, was a beloved faculty member, mentor and respected member of a number of community organizations and agencies.  During his tenure at PSC, Dr. Iggers supported the establishment of the College’s Title-III Program and several cooperative agreements with other post-secondary institutions.  In addition, he became one of the first non-Black members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity at PSC and established a very active membership with the NAACP that would span for more than fifty years.  Dr. Iggers’ commitment to activism supported lawsuits which led to the integrating of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, and securing access to the Little Rock Public Library for Philander Smith College students.  His dedication to the success of Philander Smith College and its sustainability has spanned almost seventy years.  Dr. Iggers was honored with the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from Philander Smith College in 2002, and a special collection of papers authored by Dr. Iggers is currently housed in the D.W. Reynolds Library Digital Archives at the College. 

Dr. Iggers’ contributions to Philander Smith College, civil rights and education in the United States and abroad are truly noteworthy.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Iggers’ family and friends during this most difficult time.  

Pioneering hip-hop artist MC Lyte to headline ‘Bless The Mic’

Little Rock, Ark. (October 24, 2017) ---  Iconic hip-hop artist MC Lyte is set to be the next speaker in the Bless The Mic Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 3. The talk is slated as part of the College’s 2017 Homecoming activities.

Mc Lyte.jpg

Born Lana Moorer in Brooklyn, New York, the rapper turned actress, author, DJ and voice-over talent is celebrated as one of the most prolific and well-respected female hip-hop artists of all time. A pioneer in the industry, her early work helped to usher in the proliferation of today’s female hip-hop artists, and she remains culturally relevant by consistently reinventing herself and expanding her portfolio. In addition to her various entrepreneurial ventures, the Grammy Award-nominated artist travels the country as a popular speaker for colleges, universities and organizations bringing a message of empowerment from her book Unstoppable: Igniting the Power Within to Achieve Your Greatest Potential. Active in many social projects, including anti-violence campaigns and Rock the Vote, MC Lyte sits on the board of trustees at Dillard University in New Orleans and is president of the Hip Hop Sisters Foundation.

Bless The Mic is a thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating lecture series that brings some of today’s leading thought leaders, luminaries, inspirational speakers and cultural experts to share their unique perspectives. Each speaker in the 2017-2018 installment will follow a year-long theme of “Think Justice 2.0” to heighten awareness of issues related to justice, equality and empowerment.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will take place inside of the M.L. Harris Auditorium on the Philander Smith campus. Seating is first-come, first-serve; no tickets or reservations are required. 

For more information, contact Jennelle Primm, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, at or by phone at 501-370-5310.


Philander Smith College Athletics to debut 'Hall of Fame'

Four standout former student-athletes will be honored at induction banquet

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Little Rock, Ark. (October 19, 2017) --- Four former student-athletes will be inducted as members of the inaugural class of the Philander Smith College Athletic Hall of Fame. The honorees include Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, legendary men’s basketball star; Elijah Pitts (posthumously), champion football player; Julia Bullock-Lewis, women’s track and field stand-out; and Missouri Aldredge, a pioneer in women’s basketball.

“We are elated to begin acknowledging extraordinary former student-athletes with induction into the Philander Smith College Athletic Hall of Fame,” said Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “Our first group of honorees includes outstanding men and women who have represented our College, state and country in careers that have helped to shape modern sports. As we continue to mark Philander Smith’s 140th Anniversary, it is fitting that we not only celebrate the athletic achievements of our honorees, but also their indelible contributions to our institution.”

To kickoff the Philander Smith Homecoming weekend, the honorees will be inducted during an induction banquet that will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 in the Nugent Conference Center on the campus of Philander Smith. Inductees will also be recognized in the Crawford J. Mims Gymnasium immediately following the Panther Women’s basketball game that has a 2 p.m. tipoff.

Tables and individual tickets ($25 per person) to the banquet may be purchased online at or in person at the PSC Office of Institutional Advancement. Sponsorships are also available. For more information, contact Nathan Cochran at or call (501) 370-5317.

PSC Digital Librarian/Archivist receives prestigious Digital Library Federation HBCU Fellowship

PSC Digital Librarian/Archivist is selected for prestigious Digital Library Federation HBCU Fellowship

Letisha Stacey-1.jpg

Little Rock, Ark. (October 19, 2017) --- LeTisha Stacey, Digital Librarian/Archivist at Philander Smith College’s Donald W. Reynolds Library and Technology Center, is among twenty-four library professionals from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) selected to attend the 2017 Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum and DLF Liberal Arts/HBCUs Preconference. The opportunity – which includes a stipend and free registration to the annual DLF Forum – is a result of a grant of fellowship funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program and takes place on October 23-25. 

“The HBCU Library Alliance is pleased to partner with the Digital Library Federation and is appreciative of IMLS funding for the conference,” says HBCU Library Alliance Executive Director Sandra Phoenix. She continues, “The fellowship winners will add unique perspectives and a wealth of shared experiences to these very important discussions. As voices of advocacy for HBCU institutions with strong traditions of mentoring, these fellows can offer ‘first-hand’ experiences of the value of digital libraries, their collections and imprint on scholarship, American history and culture.”

DLF Director Bethany Nowviskie agrees, “Collaborating with the HBCU Library Alliance has been an honor and a delight, and we’re grateful to IMLS for helping us welcome these two dozen outstanding fellowship winners to Pittsburgh. Their perspectives will greatly enrich conversations there.” She adds, “It’s the perfect time for a program like this. It has never been more important for digital libraries to challenge white supremacy by reflecting Black experiences, imagining more liberated futures, and asserting the value of Black lives.”

The DLF Forum Preconference, scheduled for October 22 in Pittsburgh, will focus on digital libraries and library-based teaching as a common mission and common ground between liberal arts colleges or programs and HBCUs. The keynote speaker, Loretta Parham, directs Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library, which serves a consortium of Atlanta-area HBCUs.

Stacey, who holds a master's degree in library and information science, has been on staff at PSC since January 2016. She joins other librarians/archivists selected from other HBCUs, as well as staff with HBCU backgrounds who work in libraries or museums at other institutions, in being named to receive the highly-sought fellowship.


Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is one of the oldest private, historically Black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state.  Philander Smith College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA.

'Bless the Mic' season 13 kicks off with veteran journalist april ryan

April Ryan is first Bless The Mic: Think Justice 2.0 speaker

Philander Smith College will kick off the thirteenth season of its Bless The Mic Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 19  with April Ryan, veteran journalist, author and White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN).

April Ryan.jpeg

Since 1997, Ryan has covered the White House for AURN as bureau chief, giving her the privilege of covering four presidential administrations. A CNN political analyst known for her distinctive insight of urban and mainstream politics inside Washington and the White House, Ryan is a best-selling author of two books: At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White (2016) The Presidency in Black and White: My Up Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America (2015). In May 2017, the multi-award recipient was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists as the “Journalist of the Year.” Also in 2017, Ryan was awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Morgan State University, a historically black college in her native Baltimore, Maryland.  

Bless The Mic is a thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating lecture series that brings some of today’s leading thought leaders, luminaries, inspirational speakers and cultural experts to share their unique perspectives. Each speaker in the 2017-2018 installment will follow a year-long theme of “Think Justice 2.0” as the College prepares to re-launch its Social Justice Institute that was first established in 2007.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will take place inside of the M.L. Harris Auditorium on the Philander Smith campus. Seating is first-come, first-serve; no tickets or reservations are required. 

For more information, contact Jennelle Primm, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, at or by phone at 501-370-5310.



Philander Smith College launches ACITE

Arkansas Center for Innovation in Teacher Excellence hosts professional development seminar for teachers

Little Rock, Ark. (October 13, 2017) --- The Arkansas Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence (ACITE) at Philander Smith College hosted its first ever professional development seminar open to educators across the state. The two-day conference, held Oct. 11-12 on the PSC campus, centered around cultural competency in the classroom with the theme “Promoting Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Better Serve Culturally Diverse Students.”

ACITE Training.jpg

Two nationally known speakers were brought in to address conference attendees. For the opening day, H. Richard Milner IV, Ph.D., spoke on Ten Reminders in Meeting the Needs of Culturally Diverse Learners. Milner is a published author and education professor at The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education, while serving also as director of Pitt’s Center for Urban Education. On Thursday, Oct. 12, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, who is considered to be a co-creator of the concept of cultural competence, gave an engaging presentation on the topic of Why Should Educators Be Culturally Competent? Billings is a pedagogical theorist and teacher educator on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

 More than 100 participants attended ACITE’s inaugural conference, including educators from eight Arkansas school districts (Arkadelphia, Bentonville, Dollarway, Jacksonville-North Pulaski, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Pulaski County Special and Watson Chapel), as well as three higher education institutions (University of the Ozarks, Shorter College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). Additionally, nine of PSC’s teacher education students also participated.

 This was the first conference of many planned by ACITE that will offer timely and relevant instructional topics – as well as continuing education units – to educators statewide. 


Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is one of the oldest private, historically Black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state.  Philander Smith College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA.

Philander Smith College student is named a 2017 HBCU All-Star

Senior English major from Chicago comprises fourth class of outstanding HBCU scholars

2017 HBCU All Star_Tiaara.jpg

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs) announced that Philander Smith College student Tiaara Anderson, a senior English major from Chicago, Illinois, is among the 61 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students named as a 2017 HBCU All-Star for their individual accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.

The All-Stars, who represent 59 historically black colleges and universities, were selected from more than 453 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the WHIHBCUs by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the role of the Initiative as a resource.  In addition, the All-Stars will also participate in the White House HBCU Week conference, as well as various national events, web chats with the Initiative staff and professionals from a range of disciplines.

“We are tremendously proud of our 2017 HBCU All-Star, Tiaara Anderson, for this prestigious selection recognizing her scholarship and student leadership,” said Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, president of Philander Smith College. “With each class of HBCU All-Stars, scholars like Tiaara demonstrate how vitally critically our institutions are in producing world-class leaders who go on to become our nation’s educators, judges, physicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, change agents and more.”

Of this fourth class of HBCU All-Stars, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos remarked, “During the course of one academic school year, these 61 All-Stars will distinguish themselves as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate, and noble ambassadors of their respective institutions.” According to the WHIBCCUs, the All-Stars will have exceptional opportunities to engage with other HBCU scholars and to showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

For more information regarding the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including the 2017 HBCU All-Star Student program, visit




Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is one of the oldest private, historically Black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state.  Philander Smith College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA.

PSC enrollment grows to nearly 900 students

Increase represents third straight year of record highs

Little Rock, Ark. (September 18, 2017) ---   Philander Smith College has enrolled 875 students for the 2017 Fall Semester, a near-15% increase from last year’s numbers. Enrollment statistics, including first-time freshmen combined with returning students, indicate a well-rounded student body with a wide range of academic interests.


Last fall, the College experienced an accelerated enrollment jump that yielded a nearly 30-percent increase which created a shortage in on-campus residential facilities. With 366 first-time freshmen reported for Fall 2017, Philander Smith continues to make use of “Panther Village,” the residential community established to accommodate last year’s housing overflow, as well as triple occupancy in dorm rooms. Additionally, a small number of students are being housed in a nearby downtown hotel – the LaQuinta Inn and Suites.  

“As we culminate the celebration of the 140thAnniversary of Philander Smith College at the end of this year, we consider it a tremendous blessing to be in a posture of continual growth and increase,” said Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, PSC President. 

Over the past three years, the Philander Smith enrollment picture has steadily expanded.  From 567 reported in Fall 2014 to 584 students in Fall 2015, enrollment at the institution climbed to 765 students in 2016 to the current high of 875 for Fall 2017.

Progress in student population is a key component of the College’s future plans.  “The institution’s long-range plans include moving Philander forward to a student enrollment of 1,000 by the year 2020 and 1,200 by 2026. With three strong years of robust increase, Philander Smith College is well on the way toward achieving these goals,” said President Smothers.

ADHE Director Maria Markham Visits Philander Smith College


Little Rock, Ark. (August 21, 2017) ---  As the world’s attention was focused on the solar eclipse, Director of the  Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) Maria Markham paid a visit to Philander Smith College today as a part of her plan to visit all of the state’s colleges and universities.

Dr. Roderick Smothers, PSC President, shared the College’s history and mission with Markham while expressing his excitement about the College’s new vision for the future. He also expressed his continued eagerness to partner with ADHE and other state agencies to solve some of Arkansas’ challenges around education, health care, community engagement and the economy. 

The wide-ranging conversation also covered topics related to remediation, college affordability and efforts designed to address the teaching shortage in Arkansas. After which, Dr. Smothers led Markham on a tour of the campus in which she was able to meet and engage with several members of the Philander Smith faculty and student body. 

PSC President Reponds to Local Violence

A city in crisis
We can heal our community

(As published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on July 6, 2017)

The city of Little Rock has risen from deep segregation and racial conflict to become a progressive state capital with a rich culture and diversity across the various layers of society. In my 2.5 years here, I have come to know those at the helm of city leadership as men and women who are willing to work toward harmony through serious evaluation and courageous conversations regarding the city's shortcomings.

No doubt, Little Rock has made progress; but, as it happens, progress can come with its share of setbacks. We are experiencing a serious period of regression today as we watch with dismay what appears to be a cycle of violent activities, ranging from chilling homicides and gang violence to drug abuse and other felonious acts.

Most recently, alleged gang-related violence erupted at the Power Ultra Lounge in downtown Little Rock, with reports that as many as 28 people were injured, and the cause and/or target is still unknown. The incident hit close to home. A young female Philander Smith College student was celebrating her birthday at the lounge, joined by several sorority sisters and friends. Fortunately, they all escaped without injury, but we recognize that the outcome could have been drastically different.

While we promote a zero-tolerance policy with respect to violence in the Philander Smith community, it is unrealistic to think that when our students step outside our campus that they will not encounter some level of risk. These circumstances and other prevailing social challenges have caused Philander Smith to rethink how we execute our justice-based mission. Just as Philander Smith College was a refuge for those strategizing to overthrow desegregation in Little Rock in the 1950s, the college must continue to be fertile ground for bravery in the face of modern-day crises.

Simply put, Philander Smith wants to do something about not only the proliferation of violence in our city, but also the prevalence of injustice in our society.


The 129th Commencement of Philander Smith College

Little Rock, Ark. (May 8, 2017) ---  Philander Smith College awarded nearly 110 degrees during its 129th Commencement Ceremony at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Saturday, May 6.

The 2017 Commencement speaker was Roland S. Martin, a nationally-recognized journalist, author and political commentator. Martin is host of a one-hour weekday morning news show, News One Now which airs on the TV One network. The long-time CNN contributor and nationally syndicated columnist, named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2013, had a thought-provoking theme for his address: “Don’t just be present, but have a presence.” The Houston, Texas-native challenged the Class of 2017 to not just go through life showing up, but to make a difference.

Philander Smith also presented honorary degrees to three distinguished individuals: automobile scion Major General (Retired) Harold Gwatney; Rush Harding III, CEO of Crews & Associates and First Security Finance; and Bishop Felton May (posthumously), well-respected United Methodist Church leader and former dean of the PSC Kendall Science and Health Mission Center, who passed away in February 2017 at the age of 81. Both Gwatney and Harding are former members of the PSC Board of Trustees.   

Additionally, PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., presented the Ozell Sutton Medal of Justice to two outstanding advocates for social justice: Former United States Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, a 1952 Philander Smith alumna whose medical career has been dedicated to closing gaps in healthcare disparities; and Commencement speaker Roland S. Martin, who has used the media as a platform to push for justice and equality for marginalized communities. Since its inception in 2009, the Sutton medal has been given to outstanding individuals whose actions have helped to create a more just society.    

And for the fourth year, the PSC National National Alumni Association awarded its Senior of the Year designation. Aleah B. Randolph, of St. Louis, Mo., was the 2017 recipient. Randolph graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor of arts in psychology.

Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is proudly celebrating 140 years of providing educational excellence as a historically black, private college affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Noted Political Commentator and Author Roland Martin to keynote Philander Smith College’s 2017 Commencement

 Philander Smith College will hold exercises for its 129th Commencement Ceremony that will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Nationally acclaimed journalist and political commentator Roland Martin will be the keynote speaker. A  commentator for TV One, Martin also hosts the network’s one-hour weekday morning news show, News One Now. The long-time CNN contributor and nationally syndicated columnist has received numerous accolades and awards, including being named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2013 for his extensive focus on voter suppression and other issues of concern to African Americans during the 2012 election. The Houston, Texas, native is also an author, business owner and publisher. A life-long advocate for racial equality and social justice, Martin’s journalism career has seen him interview multiple U.S. presidents, top athletes and entertainers, as well as international business executives.


The 129th Commencement will be followed by a community-wide Seafood Boil and BBQ held on the PSC campus in honor of the institutions’ 140th Anniversary. Free and open to the public, the Mardi Gras- themed event will feature a traditional seafood boil menu of shrimp, sausage, crab legs, corn, crawfish and potatoes, to go along with a full menu of barbecue delights.  


Philander Smith President to participate in meetings with Trump Administration and Members of Congress

Little Rock, Ark. (February 27, 2017)  – Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., President of Philander Smith College, is part of a contingent of UNCF-member institutions presidents who will meet today with the Administration of President Donald J. Trump for a Listening Session coordinated by the UNCF Office of Public Policy and Governmental Affairs in partnership with the White House and key Congressional officials.

Since taking office, The White House has said the new administration is particularly interested in hearing from UNCF presidents on how it can better partner with the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as well as how HBCUs can help to revitalize their surrounding communities.

Additionally, the black college and university leaders will participate in an “HBCU Fly-In” on Tuesday, Feb. 28, coinciding with President Trump’s scheduled State of the Union Address. The bipartisan event will be hosted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), and will also include Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). The daylong meeting is expected to include discussions about opportunity, strengthening relationships, the importance of HBCUs, as well as a luncheon and tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“As a UNCF-member president, I am grateful for this opportunity to have an audience with President Trump’s Administration. These are critical times for many of our HBCUs. The foremost goal for these meetings is to impress upon the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders the value and contributions of HBCUs to the nation,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “This year, Philander Smith College is celebrating its 140th Anniversary. Because our institution has such a vital role in the landscape of higher education, we felt it necessary to be a part of these conversations seeking meaningful federal support of HBCUs.”

Thirty-seven historically black colleges and universities belong to the UNCF network of member institutions. Philander Smith College is the only UNCF-member institution in Arkansas.  


Celebrating its 140th Anniversary, Philander Smith College – founded in 1877 – 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'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 (UNCF) member institution in Arkansas, strives to provide a quality education for all regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin or ethnic background. For more information, visit