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.

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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

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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).

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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.”

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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

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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

Two Philander Scholars Named Lina McCord Summer Interns

PSC Sophomore, Mr. Russell Williams of Opelusas, LA and PSC Junionr,  Ms. Tiaara Anderson of Chicago, IL are named Lina H. McCord Summer Interns for 2017. 

The Lina H. McCord program welcomes eight students from United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) to serve as its 2017 summer interns. The summer intern program, sponsored by the Black College Fund (BCF), a ministry of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), follows a model of communication and interaction that is a hallmark of the United Methodist Church’s earliest traditions. The new interns were selected in the fall and traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for an orientation program in January 2017.

 The five-day orientation included guest speakers and training designed to sharpen and enhance the students’ communications skills, help them build networking and leadership skills and strive for personal and corporate excellence. As part of their training, the students toured Meharry Medical College (a BCF school), along with local United Methodist agencies and offices, including the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Africa University Development Office, Discipleship Ministries, the General Commission on United Methodist Men, the General Commission on Finance and Administration, the United Methodist Publishing House and United Methodist Communications.

 Throughout the year, the students travel across United Methodist jurisdictions and annual conferences representing BCF and GBHEM. After successfully completing one year as an intern, students have the opportunity to become ambassadors, a permanent designation, which allows continued travel and representation of the program. Two current ambassadors, Jessica Love, graduate of Rust College, and Markus McKinney, senior at Rust College, attended orientation to help with training and serve as mentors for the newly selected interns.

 “Lina H. McCord interns and ambassadors are critical to helping annual conferences and congregations in The United Methodist Church see where their money is going," said Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson, assistant general secretary, Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns, Division of Higher Education at GBHEM. "Historically black colleges and universities are still relevant and important in the life of the church. This program gives these students skills and an opportunity to share their success stories with United Methodists who have generously supported the Black College Fund. The McCord ambassadors are our best and brightest scholars and they beautifully represent the other 16,000 students who attend these 11 schools each year."

 The ambassadors are named for the fund's longtime executive director, the late Lina H. McCord, and must be recommended by their chaplain and college or university’s president to participate.

 2017 Lina H. McCord Summer Interns:

·         Russell R. Williams III, Philander Smith College

·         Rochelle Givens, Bennett College

·         Tiaara A. Anderson, Philander Smith College

·         Brittani Levine, Claflin University

·         Ryan Hardin, Paine College

·         Raymal McCowan, Huston-Tillotson University

·         Christian Menzi, Rust College

·         Taylor Willis, Claflin University

 The Black College Fund, established by the 1972 United Methodist General Conference, provides support for operations, programs and capital improvements at the denomination's 11 HBCUs. The fund allows the institutions to keep their tuition and cost low. The United Methodist Church supports more HBCUs than any other religious organization.

 “Because United Methodists faithfully and generously give to the Black College Fund, generations of students are able to dream, do and lead,” continues Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson. “Lina H. McCord interns and ambassadors are a shining example of the amazing work our institutions do every day.”

 To learn more about the Black College Fund and all United Methodist-related colleges and universities, visit


About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.



Philander Smith College Announces New Director of Alumni Relations

Welcome Brenda Hatton-Ficklin!

Pine Bluff Native is New Director of Alumni Relations

Following a rigorous national search, Brenda Hatton-Ficklin of Little Rock has been selected to serve as Director of Alumni Relations at Philander Smith College.


A graduate of Dollarway High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Hatton-Ficklin earned an undergraduate degree in business from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration/Leadership from Webster University.

She brings to the position a broad business and administrative background from experiences culled from the nonprofit, telecommunications and education sectors. For more than a decade, she was employed as the Events Director at Little Rock's St. Mark Baptist Church, where she is still an active member.

Hatton-Ficklin is a dedicated volunteer for a variety of organizations and causes, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Consortium Board, Timmons Arts Foundation Board, Junior League of Little Rock, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, Women's Foundation of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas Black Alumni Association Charter member, and is a founder and charter member of the Jack & Jill Provisional Group.
She is the proud mother of two sons, one of whom, Quintin, is an HBCU graduate and the other, Caleb, is currently attending an HBCU.
"We excitedly welcome Ms. Hatton-Ficklin to Philander Smith College," remarked Sericia Cole, Acting Vice President for Institutional Advancement. "She brings with her valuable experiences in special events, various aspects of church ministry, sales and marketing, in addition to a strong reputation as a go-getter and producer. Our thanks to the Director of Alumni Relations Search Committee, which was comprised of active PSC alumni, for its hard work and dedication to the selection process."  

Ms. Hatton-Ficklin begins work on February 1, 2017 in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Kelly Hall.

Philander Smith College hosts "Panther Village" Grand Opening

Temporary residential community helps college address need for overflow student housing

Little Rock, Ark. (January 27, 2017) – Philander Smith College today hosted an open house and tour of its new temporary student housing community, Panther Village @ South Campus.


“Panther Village” was created for PSC scholars who were displaced from on campus residential housing at the start of the Fall 2016 Semester due to increased student enrollment. Panther Village, which is only two blocks away from the PSC main campus, was in answer to the College’s emergent needs for overflow housing, allowing for the relocation of as many as 60 students who had been placed at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites hotel in downtown Little Rock.

Located in the 1600 Block of Chester Street in the Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District, Panther Village houses six temporary modular housing units in secured, gated area with 24-hour security personnel and on-site PSC professional staff. The modern-styled, prefabricated modular homes offer comfortable student living in a community whose aesthetic is reflective of the quality and dignity of the historic neighborhood in which it sits.

Enrollment for Philander Smith College spiked at the start of the Fall 2016 Semester with a 30 percent increase. Such rapid growth caused the institution to address needs for overflow housing that would provide residential security for scholars in a safe, controlled environment that is structured toward student learning and engagement.

“Our long-range plans already included increasing the capacity of our on-campus housing, but this Fall we had to quickly devise alternate, short-term plans to accommodate our accelerated growth,” said Philander Smith College President Roderick L. Smothers. “Panther Village helps us to continue to provide our scholars with a comfortable, safe and secure student-learning environment that is conducive to their success. Additionally, we are pleased that this new housing addition allows us to have even greater community presence within Little Rock’s Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District.”


Philander Smith College Names New Athletic Director

Little Rock, Ark. (January 11, 2017) –  Philander Smith College has named Nathan Cochran to the post of Athletic Director.  Cochran, who started work on Jan. 3, oversees the institution’s sports programs which currently include, Men’s and Women’s basketball, Women’s volleyball, and Men’s and Women’s track and field.

A native of Boulder, Colo., Cochran comes to Philander Smith from Paine College in Augusta, Ga., where he was the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Sports Information Director. Prior to entering athletics administration, he spent  fourteen years in collegiate coaching, including stints as the Head Men’s and Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country Coach at Paine; Assistant Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator in Paine’s inaugural NCAA Division II football season; and two years as the Head Football Coach at Lincoln University in Missouri. Additionally, he is a USA Track and Field (USATF) Level 1 certified coach specializing in sprints and jumps.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to serve Philander Smith College, bringing my passion for sports and commitment to educating student-athletes,” says Cochran. “As I work to enhance and expand our athletic programs, my foremost concern is to ensure that Philander Smith athletes are successful not only in competition, but also as scholars and well-rounded individuals.”

Cochran holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from South Carolina State University – where he played football and ran track – and a master’s degree in management from Webster University.  

Philander Smith, Hendrix Present “Faith in Black and White” Series on Church & Race

Arkansas United Methodist colleges collaborate on public programs on race, ethnicity, and religion.

Little Rock, Ark. (December 14, 2016) – Hendrix College and Philander Smith College will co-host “Faith in Black and White: The Church and Race in ‘Colorblind’ America,” a public speaker series to explore the systems of racial injustice in contemporary American culture and the role of the Church in creating a more racially just society.

All events in the series are free and open to the public.

Speakers will explore the ways that churches have both supported and struggled against systems of racial injustice and will try to point a way forward for the Church in the effort to bring about a more racially just society. The series will bring together an interracial audience of Hendrix and Philander Smith students, as well as pastors and church members from central Arkansas congregations.

The Hon. Wendell Griffen of Little Rock, Circuit Judge of the Fifth Division, Sixth Judicial District and pastor of New Millennium Baptist Church, will kick off the series with “The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Citizenship,” a public lecture on Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m., at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church on the Philander Smith College campus. Griffen is a U.S. Army veteran and a University of Arkansas School of Law graduate. He was the first person of color to become an associate and later a partner in a major Arkansas law firm (Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings in Little Rock). He served as Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission chairman, Arkansas Court of Appeals judge, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law Visiting Professor before being elected to his current post. 

Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson, senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri, will speak on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m., in Mills A in the Mills Social Sciences Center at Hendrix College. Johnson gained national attention for his leadership in his community’s response to the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager. He has been featured numerous times on NPR, and his work has appeared in Time Magazine and The Christian Century, among many others. His most recent book is Holding up Your Corner: Talking about Race in Your Community.

Temple University professor Dr. Nyasha Junior will present “The Bible in Black and White” on Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m., in the Kendall Nugent building at Philander Smith College. Her work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and religion, in particular through her Womanist approach to biblical interpretation. Junior is most recently the author of An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation and is currently working on a volume on the afterlives of Hagar for Oxford University Press.

Dr. Emilie Townes, Dean and Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School, will present “(In)Justice” on Wednesday, April 5, at 7 p.m., in Mills A in the Mills Social Sciences Center at Hendrix.            An American Baptist clergywoman, Dr. Townes is one of the world’s foremost scholars of Womanist ethics. She is the first African American to serve as Dean of the Vanderbilt University Divinity School and is the author of the groundbreaking work Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. 

The speaker series is underwritten by the Margaret Berry Hutton Odyssey Professorship at Hendrix College, which is currently held by psychology professor Dr. Leslie Zorwick and religious studies professor Dr. Robert Williamson, director of the Hendrix Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling.

For more information, contact Dr. Williamson at or 501-505-1559 or Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, Dean of Religious Life and Campus Culture and Chaplain at Philander Smith College, at or 501-370-5344.



About Philander Smith College

Founded in 1877, 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'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. For more information, visit

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit

Philander Smith College Enrollment Increases by Nearly 30 Percent

Philander Smith College has welcomed a freshman class of over 300 students, the largest freshman class the Little Rock, Ark.─based institution has seen in five years.

The increase in new students has driven the College’s student population up nearly 30 percent, for a total enrollment topping 760. This increase follows consecutive years of stagnant and declining growth that saw enrollment dip as low as 500 students in 2014. “This is a thrilling time for our campus community, as this enrollment surge is evidence of the forward progress being made at our institution,” says Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.

While many factors contributed to the boost in incoming freshmen, a majority of the credit is given to the College’s admissions and enrollment management team for its strategies to expose a broader range of prospective students to the Philander Smith experience. One of those tactics included utilizing current students in recruitment efforts. “The students are our product; they are the outcome of the promise we offer. What better way to earn the trust of prospective students than to allow them to hear from a Philander Smith College student who is walking the very path that a prospect wants to follow,” says President Smothers.

With the College’s accelerated enrollment increase, however, came a challenge: a housing shortage.  With on-campus residential facilities at full-capacity housing 400 students, the College had to place nearly 80 in a nearby downtown hotel until it could determine more preferable arrangements. Last week, President Smothers announced that the College will utilize land it owns a couple blocks from the campus to create a $1.2 million housing annex as a two-year, temporary housing solution. The new housing community – “Panther Village” – will feature six modern-style, pre-fabricated modular homes situated on the adjacent site that will be enclosed by a gate and offer around-the-clock security, as well as on-site staffing by Philander housing professionals.

Students are expected to transition from the hotel into Panther Village in about a month. The College has already relocated about twenty of the displaced students, who are all upperclassmen, into an apartment community in which the College is leasing units as another means to help alleviate its housing challenges.    

“Our long-range plans already included increasing the capacity of our on-campus housing,” President Smothers explains, “but when we welcomed 100 more students than were budgeted for this fall, we had to quickly devise alternate, short-term plans to accommodate our accelerated growth. It’s a situation that we definitely consider to be a blessing, given where our enrollment figures have been over the last few years.”  Shortly after Dr. Smothers became president in Spring 2015, the College went through a right-sizing that eliminated some faculty and staff positions and caused cuts to certain programs and services.

Regardless of the challenges the College has faced since the start of the 2016 Fall Semester, President Smothers and his administrative team are grateful to be moving forward and have embraced the large freshman class with open arms.

 “We are excited to welcome the Class of 2020, with all of the energy and promise they bring to our campus,” Smothers says. “All the same, we are committed to our students, and our primary concern has been to cause the least disruption to their educational experiences as possible,” Smothers says, adding, “and providing comfortable, safe and secure housing is essential to their success.”

At a time when the relevancy and need for HBCU’s are continuously questioned, the growth and forward movement at Philander Smith College offer a convincing rebuttal.

Philander Smith College Student Named 2016-2017 All Star By The White House

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) has announced its 2016 class of HBCU All-Stars. Russell Roosevelt Williams III, a sophomore at Philander Smith College, is among the 73 students chosen for this prestigious honor.

Williams, a political science major from Opelousus, Lousiana, is among the 2016 All-Star cohort comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professionals students who were selected in recognition of their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement.

“During the course of one academic school year, the 73 All-Stars will distinguish themselves as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and as noble ambassadors of their respective institutions,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “The Initiative is looking forward to working with this third class of All-Stars and is confident this opportunity will allow the Initiative to meaningfully connect with HBCU students and advance academic excellence at their schools.” 

Selected from a pool of more than 300 students from 24 states, the District of Columbia, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Virgin Islands, Williams is the only Arkansas student selected for this year’s class. “I am beyond humbled at the opportunity this presents for me to represent my institution in my community as well as at the nation’s capital,” says Williams. Projected to graduate in 2019, Williams is already on a fast track to success and has proven his drive and leadership skills on the Philander campus and in the community serving as the Student Government Vice-President for 2016-2017 and was selected to participate in the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders hosted by the University of California at Riverside in August. His aspirations include serving as a lawyer and a public servant within local and state government.

As an All-Star, he will serve as an ambassador by providing outreach opportunities and communicating with his constituents about the value of education and the initiative using social media, relationship building, community-based organizations and sessions with industry professionals. The honor also includes the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to represent Philander Smith College at the annual White House HBCU National Conference in the fall.