Philander Smith Welcomes Dr. Phillip Pointer to College’s Faculty

Philander Smith Welcomes Dr. Phillip Pointer to College’s Faculty

Saint Mark Senior Pastor to Chair PSC Department of Philosophy and Religion


Little Rock, Ark. (August 13, 2019) –  Philander Smith College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Phillip L. Pointer to the institution’s faculty in 2019-20 as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. 

Pointer is the Senior Pastor of the Saint Mark Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in Little Rock, which he has led since 2012. Prior to relocating with his family to Arkansas, he was Senior Pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., which became Providence St. John Baptist Church once it merged with another church ministry. 

“As we embark upon a new academic term, we are elated about the addition of Dr. Phillip Pointer to our faculty. This dynamic theologian will help the College re-align with our bedrock mission of training highly qualified ministers and teachers,” stated PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.  “His keen intellect and philosophical and religious insight will empower us to mold the Department of Philosophy and Religion into a contemporary model in which to serve the diverse needs of today’s ministries.”  

 “I’m extremely excited to join the faculty at Philander Smith College,” said Dr. Pointer.  “This opportunity allows me to expand the scope of my work as Senior Pastor of Saint Mark and to help shape the lives and minds of young scholars. Saint Mark is excited to be a partner with this historic institution.”

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, and reared in Washington, D.C., Pointer holds a Master of Divinity from The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Family of First Philander Smith Graduate, Rufus C. Childress, Visits Legacy Walkway

On Friday, June 28, 2019, Philander Smith College was pleased to welcome a living piece of PSC history--the grandchildren and great-grandchild of the very first alumnus, Mr. Rufus Charles Childress.  


Childress’ bachelor of arts degree in classical philosophy was conferred in 1888, a little over 130 years ago, making it the first degree conferred by Philander Smith College after obtaining its collegiate status. As the first degree recipient, Childress is an integral part of the Philander legacy. Not only as the first graduate, but he also taught at Philander Smith for 12 years and later went on to hold a seat on the  Board of Trustees for 30 years. 

Rufus C. Childress was not just a powerhouse on Philander's campus, but he made his mark across the state of Arkansas. For over half a century Rufus C. Childress worked in positions that helped serve his community as a teacher, a principal, and the Assistant Supervisor of Arkansas Black Schools.

In 1898, he and his associates founded the Association for Teachers of Negro Youth of Arkansas, which became the parent organization of the Arkansas Teachers Association. His exemplary work helped obtain public library facilities for African-Americans in Little Rock when there were none. He helped establish the Sunday School Movement, the first African-American Boy scout troop in Arkansas (1927), The Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers of Arkansas(1928), The Urban League of Greater Little Rock (1937), and a branch of the Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers (1948). Two schools were named after him, but are now closed. Still bearing his name, however, is Childress Hall,  at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. 


His family members planned their trip to Philander Smith College to view the commemorative bricks they purchased in his honor on the PSC Legacy Walkway. Childress' granddaughter, Faustine Jones-Wilson, 92, is now the matriarch of the family and spoke about the amazing legacy her grandfather left for them. Jones-Wilson was accompanied by her daughter Yvonne Jones, Sarah Strickland, and William and Dell Patterson. During their time on campus, they laughed with PSC staff members and recounted the greatness of a man who was a lifelong community activist and humanitarian. Charles King, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, took that moment to make the ultimate presentation—a digitized copy of Rufus C. Childress original degree, written in Latin. The family was overwhelmed with appreciation, and gratitude for turning a trip to see their names on commemorative bricks, to a visit they would not soon forget. 

As the group walked back to their car, along the same path their grandfather likely walked over 80 years ago, they expressed their love for PSC and the beauty of family. Not just the ones you’re born with, but the family that helps shape you, family like Philander Smith College.  

Philander Smith College Student Recognized as 2019-2020 White House Competitiveness Scholar

Little Rock native, Paola Vazquez, Among Scholars Recognized by the White House

Little Rock, Ark. (June 20, 2019) ---  The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities has named Paola Vazquez, a junior at Philander Smith College, among 44 students from 34 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) as a 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars – the Initiative’s highest student recognition.


Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for successfully preparing to compete for top opportunities that improve long-term outcomes. Each was nominated and endorsed by their institution President, which itself is an honorable mention. Johnathan Holifield, Executive Director of the Initiative, said “the Initiative’s watchword is competitiveness and these students are fine examples of the depth and diversity of competitive talent at our institutions. We are honored to recognize them.”

Vazquez, who is a native of Little Rock, is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. An honors student and active participant on campus, she plans to pursue graduate school and study computer engineering.

The 2019 scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students chosen based on their academic achievement, campus and civic involvement and entrepreneurial ethos or “go-getter” spirit. In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and institutional achievement, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success.

“We’re looking forward to working with and learning from with this new cohort of HBCU Competitiveness Scholars,” said Elyse Jones, the Initiative’s Coordinator for the Scholars Program. “We have lots of unique, fun and interactive opportunities planned for this year that will provide new opportunities for these representatives, exposing them to critical national conversations and powerful thought leaders.”

Competitiveness Scholars will assemble during the 2019 National HBCU Week Conference, September 8-11 at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel – the theme of which is Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement. Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance. (I like the periods vs. commas – let me know your thoughts). They will participate in workshops designed to strengthen their leadership, wealth creation and management and civic engagement and will be encouraged to seek out ongoing personal and professional development in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Competitiveness Scholars will receive their recognition at the HBCU week conference during the Initiative’s Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards luncheon ceremony on September 9.

Charles King Named Vice President for Institutional Advancement


Little Rock, Ark.  (May 20, 2019) ---   Philander Smith College has appointed Charles King  as vice president for institutional advancement. In this role, he will lead all fund development activities and oversee public relations and marketing, special events and alumni relations.


King has over ten years of higher education fundraising experience gained from posts at Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University Foundation and Langston University. Most recently, he served as senior major gifts officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.


A native of Blytheville, Ark., King earned a bachelor of science in psychology from Arkansas State University in addition to a professional fundraising certificate from The Fundraising School at Indiana University. 

T.I. Awards $25,000 Scholarship to Philander Smith College Student

Rapper partners with VH1 and UNCF to honor late sister


Little Rock, Ark. (May 9, 2019) ---  Philander Smith College junior and Little Rock native Tierani Scott received a life-changing surprise during the taping of VH1’s Dear Mama television special when she was presented with a $25,000 scholarship award.

Scott, a single mother and full-time student, was selected by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and VH1 to attend the taping of the annual Mother’s Day tribute show in Los Angeles, Calif.  Each year, Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Mom brings together celebrities who pay tribute to the powerful mothers and women who have made significant impacts on their lives. This year’s special, which VH1 originally aired Monday, May 6, featured singers Ciara, Ashanti, along with Grammy-Award winning artist H.E.R. and a host of other stars.

In honor of his sister Precious Chapman, "a single mother who worked to make life better for everyone she encountered," the rapper T.I. partnered with VH1 and the UNCF to award a deserving student a scholarship in her name. Chapman passed away Feb. 22, nine days following a car accident in Atlanta, Ga.

 It was during the VH1 taping that T.I. surprised Scott, bringing her onstage to receive the first Precious Chapman Scholarship in the amount of $25,000.

“I was thrilled just to be selected to fly to Los Angeles for the taping of the show. As a single mother to my four-year-old daughter, Jaide, it felt like an honor to be in the room with the mothers of all these talented entertainers,” said Scott. “When T.I. began speaking about the scholarship in his sister’s name and then called my name as the first recipient, I was floored, shocked and incredibly happy.”  

Scott, a sociology major, recently established Q.U.E.E.N. (Qualified, Unique, Educated, Elegant) a nonprofit organization designed to empower girls and women, ages 12-35, to be their best selves and pursue their purpose in the world.  Her career goal is to be a national recording artist and continue to give back to those who need encouragement and motivation to go after their dreams. “This scholarship is affirmation that I am headed in the right direction.”

Dr. Jesse Hargrove honored as 2019 Exemplary Teacher of the Year


At the start of each academic year, Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, who are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, are asked by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to nominate an exemplary teacher of the year. On Saturday, May 4, 2019 during our 131 Commencement services this award was given to Dr. Jesse Hargrove, Associate Professor of Spanish and Art in the Division of Arts and Humanities at Philander Smith College.

The recipient of the Exemplary Teacher Award demonstrates excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value-centered education; and service to the students, the institution, and the community.

The College was thrilled to recognize Dr. Hargrove for being a highly dedicated and effective educator. He regularly contributes his time and talent to serve students, faculty and staff at the College. From narrating the Civil Rights Bus Tour in Little Rock to being appointed by the Governor of Arkansas to serve on the Black History Commission, Dr. Hargrove’s vast knowledge of history and culture engages students inside and outside of the classroom.

Philander Smith College Holds 2019 Commencement Services

Award-winning actor and producer Laz Alonso to serve as special guest presenter


Little Rock, Ark. (May 3, 2019) ---  The 2019 Commencement Services of Philander Smith College will take place at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 4 in the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Award winning actor and producer Laz Alonso will serve as special guest presenter for the 2019 Commencement. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Alonso is a graduate of Howard University. He began his career on Wall Street as an investment banker before embarking upon an acting career. Alonso is recognized for his role playing “Tsu'tey” in the smash hit science fiction film Avatar and the villain “Fenix Calderon” in the film Fast & Furious.  His other film credits include Jarhead, This Christmas, Miracle at St. Anna, Jumping The Broom, Detroit and Traffik. This summer Alonso will be featured in a starring role in the new Amazon comedic superhero series The Boys.

In addition to Alonso’s guest appearance, Philander Smith College will award honorary doctorate degrees to four of its notable alumni. The recipients include: former UA Little Rock Chancellor Charles W. Donaldson of Little Rock; retired military veteran Arthur N. Montgomery of Batesville, Ark.; retired General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church administrator Lynda Byrd of San Antonio, Texas; and recently retired PSC political science professor Raphael Lewis of Little Rock.

Approximately 105 degrees will be conferred upon students graduating from the institution.

Immediately following the graduation ceremony, the college will host a free, congratulatory luncheon on campus grounds for faculty, staff, students, and members of the community to celebrate with the new graduates and their families.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® Presents Philander Smith College with First Installment of $100,000 Endowment

Over $1.6 Million Distributed to HBCUs During Black History Month

Little Rock, Ark. (February 28, 2019) – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA), in partnership with the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF), has pledged an endowment in the amount of $100,000 to Philander Smith College as a part of the organization’s AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund.


 On February 28, 2019, Philander Smith College president, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.,  joined 31 other presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the Alpha Kappa Alpha International Headquarters in Chicago to accept the first installment of their institution’s award.  

 “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has implemented the AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund with the goal of investing in the future of our young people and the sustainability of our treasured HBCUs,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. International President, Dr. Glenda Glover. “Our organization has pledged to donate a total of $10 million dollars towards the endowment, and we are honored to provide Philander Smith College the first $50,000 during our February event as we celebrate Black History Month and the legacies of all HBCUs.”

 “Philander Smith College is immensely grateful to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for its strong display of commitment to the future of HBCUs through its AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund. Moreover, our gratitude is heightened even further that Philander Smith is a beneficiary of this extraordinary investment,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.

 The historic event gathered presidents from HBCUs across the nation and featured remarks from Dr. Glenda Glover as well as a tour of the iconic and recently renovated Ivy Center International Headquarters in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

“This endowment will aid our scholars who face financial challenges as they strive to complete their education. So it is especially poignant to conclude Black History Month by attending the HBCU President’s Reception to receive the first installment of this generously charitable act,” President Smothers remarked.

‘Opportunity and Progress’: U.S. Rep French Hill and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott Visit Philander Smith College

Little Rock, Ark. (February 22, 2019) –  Two members of the United States Congress visited Philander Smith College (PSC) today to discuss the vision  for federal tax breaks in distressed areas, now known as “Opportunity Zones.”

 U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) visited with PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. and a student representative of the College’s newly re-instated Community Development Corporation, junior Russell Williams III. On a rainy afternoon, the group pored over a map detailing where the College’s properties sit which are designated as an “Opportunity Zone” and discussed potential strategies to attract investors and businesses to benefit not only them but also the community adjacent to the institution.

 Sen. Scott, who was raised in a single-parent household in North Charleston, South Carolina, that he says was “mired in poverty,” has been traveling across the country to bring attention to his anti-poverty initiative.

As the author of the Opportunity Zone portion of the 2017 tax reform bill, Scott’s vision is to drive jobs and economic growth which would breathe life into struggling, low-income areas. 

 Economic revitalization is a key component of Philander Smith College’s social justice-driven mission and its ‘Forward Initiatives’ created to ensure the vitality of the institution and the community in which it is located. 


Announcing the 2019 Living Legends Honorees

Philander Smith College Selects Nine “Living Legends” to honor at Annual Recognition Banquet

Little Rock, Ark. (January 28, 2019) – Philander Smith College has announced the honorees for the Annual Living Legends Banquet which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 21, 2019 in the Nugent Conference Room at the Harry R. Kendall Health and Science Mission Center on the college’s campus.  

 In its twelfth year, the Living Legends Banquet seeks to honor individuals who have made a lasting impact on the community and the campus. This year’s Living Legends honorees include: PSC alumna and long-time professor Dr. Lillian Ross; former Little Rock Vice-Mayor and Community Leader Kathy Webb; retired educator and long-time PSC supporter Janet Davis-Tate; PSC Executive Vice President Dr. Darnell Williams; Little Rock pastor Dr. C. Dennis Edwards; PSC alumnus and religious leader Rev. Mark Norman; PSC Professor of Criminal Justice, Dr. Carmen Hardin; Director of Professional Development and Student Engagement, Dr. Vernita Bowens, and current PSC student athlete Tierra Bell.

 The Living Legends Banquet serves as the culmination of Philander Smith College’s annual Religious Emphasis Week (February 16-23, 2019), which engages students, faculty, staff and the community in activities and programming designed to provide opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth. This year’s theme “The Micah Mandate” focuses on justice, kindness and humility as keys to successful living. 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 College faculty, staff, alumni and a PSC current student.

 “We are always delighted to take this opportunity each year to recognize those in our community who leave a lasting legacy of leadership and service,” says Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, Philander Smith College Chaplain and Dean of Religious Life and Campus Culture. “It is the dedication and sacrifice of these individuals who have helped to uplift our communities.”  

 Sponsorship opportunities and tickets are also available for the 2019 Living Legends Banquet. For information, or questions regarding the Living Legends Banquet, please contact the Office of Religious Life and Campus Culture at 501-370-5344.

Philander Smith College Announces New Choral Director

Dr. Stephen Hayes returns to helm of Philander Smith Collegiate Choir

Little Rock, Ark. (January 25, 2019) -- Philander Smith College is pleased to announce that the renowned Philander Smith Collegiate Choir is now under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Hayes who previously led the choir from 1985-1993.


A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Hayes is a respected and noted choral director with over 33 years of experience in higher education. He has led the choirs at a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama), Lemoyne-Owen College (Memphis, Tennessee) and most recently at Wiley College (Marshall, Texas).

Dr. Hayes’ tenure as a choral director boasts several noteworthy accomplishments. Under his leadership, the Wiley College Choir recorded movie soundtracks for notable films such as The Great Debaters (2007), The Good Fight: James Farmer Remembers the Civil Rights Movement (2009) and The Birth of a Nation (2016). Additionally, he has directed both Wiley College and Tuskegee University in concert at the White House.

The Philander Smith Collegiate Choir gained national acclaim during Dr. Hayes’ previous tenure, traveling frequently to perform at the request of then-President Bill Clinton, including being a highlight of his 1993 Presidential Inauguration—becoming the first HBCU choir to do so. Dr. Hayes also led the choir in appearances with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Jennifer Holliday and Michael Bolton.

“We are so thrilled for the return of Dr. Stephen Hayes to Little Rock and Philander Smith College,” said President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “His long-standing career and success with HBCU choirs speaks for itself. Our Collegiate Choir is a jewel of the institution and Dr. Hayes’ return is a critical step in helping move the choir forward to its next level of excellence.”

Entertainer “Ray J” Falls in Love with Philander Smith College

The 2018 PSC Homecoming closed out with a bang, in more ways than one.


 As part of the Homecoming Schedule, actor/singer/entrepreneur Ray J  (born William Ray Norwood, Jr.) was the featured gear speaker for the College’s popular “Bless the Mic” Lecture Series. After a well-received talk to an audience of more than 500, the entertainer spent the next couple days on campus, enjoying a dose of the Philander Experience. These inspiring encounters led Ray J to decide to enroll as one of the newest PSC Panthers, scheduled to begin classes in the Spring 2019 Semester.

 The entertainer and businessman understands the importance of education, especially that of an Historically Black College or University (HBCU). “God is working! I chose to enroll in Philander Smith College. I’m very familiar with the HBCU experience because my parents attended HBCUs,” he wrote via his Instagram announcement. “I welcome the opportunity to further my business skills as I continue to grow and expand my technology company Raycon Global.”

 The 37-year-old, who is a newlywed and new father, has achieved success through music and acting, but he is looking forward to adding “collegian” to his expanding resume — proving that it is never too late to attend college. 

Philander Smith College Student, Kevontae Carter, Named HBCU Competitiveness Scholar


The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) has announced the 2018 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars – the Initiative’s highest student recognition. Kevontae Carter, a junior at Philander Smith College, from Little Rock, AR, is among the elite group of students chosen for this prestigious honor.

Carter, a biology major, will serve a one-year term as a Competitiveness Scholar, in which he will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and HBCU competitiveness, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success. As the embodiment of unique competitive advantages HBCUs provide students, Competitiveness Scholars are afforded opportunities to highlight their exceptional contributions to institutions, ignite new passions and explore ideas critical to lifelong growth and development.

Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Carter has proven himself a leader on and off the Philander campus serving as a member of the Pre-Alumni Council and recently completed a summer internship in Washington, D.C. He aspires to be a dentist and an entrepreneur.  “I am extremely grateful to have an opportunity to represent Philander Smith College this school year,” said Carter. “This is a great opportunity to collaborate with various organizations, students, and work professionals in creating different campus and civil service projects. I plan to capitalize on this opportunity to better serve Philander Smith College and the community.”

Carter is one of 63 students from 54 HBCUs who have received this honor. The special academic recognition includes a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the 2018 National HBCU Week Conference during which time scholars will participate in workshops designed to improve leadership, encourage ongoing personal and professional development and discover areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Public Notice on Higher Learning Commission Visit


Philander Smith College is seeking comments from the public about the College in preparation for its Year-4 Comprehensive Evaluation of its 10-Year cycle by its regional accrediting agency.  The College will host a visit October 29-30, 2018, with a team representing the Higher Learning Commission.  The team will review the Institution’s ongoing ability to meet the Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation. 

Philander Smith College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, its regional accrediting agency. The College has been re-accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1949.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the College to the following address:

Public Comment on Philander Smith College
Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411

The public may also submit comments on HLC’s website at

Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs.  Comments must be in writing.

All comments must be received by September 28, 2018.


Tamika S. Edwards is named Executive Director of the Social Justice Institute

Little Rock, Ark.  (August 23, 2018) --- Following an extensive national search, Philander Smith College (PSC) has announced that Tamika S. Edwards, J.D., has been selected to lead the College’s Social Justice Institute. The appointment, which makes Edwards the second Executive Director in the Institute’s history, will begin September 4.

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Established by Philander Smith College in 2007, the Social Justice Institute is the central incubator for the College’s focus on its mission to “graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice….” In recent years, the Social Justice Institute has been inspired to rethink

and re-imagine its approach to justice-driven education. With a newly broadened scope, the Social Justice Institute has reorganized with the intent of making a greater impact not only locally, but also regionally and nationwide.

“We are thrilled that Tamika Edwards is joining us to lead the critical work of the Social Justice Institute, the heart and soul of the campus culture at Philander Smith College. We are confident in her tremendous ability and experience in bringing people together to help enact meaningful change.

Furthermore, her passion for addressing policies that breed inequality will help to elevate the Social Justice Institute’s status as a regional center and resource for justice work,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Edwards has nearly twenty years of experience in public policy and community development. Most recently, she served as Director of Governmental Affairs at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) where she led the development and execution of the organization’s legislative strategy. Prior to AACF, she was Director of Public Policy at Southern Bancorp Community Partners and previously served as Community Affairs Specialist in the Office of U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.

“I am beyond excited about the opportunity to lead the courageous work of the Social Justice Institute,” said Edwards, continuing, “As we move forward on a bold new path, the Social Justice Institute will strive to train advocates who are willing to challenge the lack of fair and just relations in our society and recognize the public policies that contribute to inequitable systems. I look forward to working with the amazing students, talented faculty and staff, as well as our entire community, to address the conditions and public policies that contribute to social injustice.”

Edwards earned the Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), the Master’s Degree in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and the Juris Doctor from the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.  In addition to serving in numerous community leadership roles, she is a contributor to Talk Business and Politics, a news website that covers business, politics, and culture throughout Arkansas. In 2017, she was recognized in the inaugural edition of The Arkansas 200, published by Arkansas Business, as a leader “who influences the way we live, learn and do business in the state.”

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With its most recent activities and events—to include a refreshed brand and look, to its Law and Justice Summit for local leaders, to its first-ever two-day ‘JusticeCon2018’ convening targeted at awakening and nurturing social justice activism in students—the Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College is poised to become a global leader in justice education by inspiring and equipping students, thought-leaders, activists and community members to tackle the work of combatting inequity. More information about the Social Justice Institute can be found at




Philander Smith College Enrollment Grows by Double Digits for the Third year in a row

Little Rock, Ark. (August 17, 2018) --- For the third year in a row, Philander Smith College is experiencing double digit growth in enrollment. The College is closing out its first week of classes, and preliminary reports show an almost 15% increase over last year’s enrollment.


 The trending growth comes after the institution experienced consecutive years of decline in enrollment, dropping as low as 500 students in recent history. Projections calculate this year’s enrollment at over 1,000 students, almost doubling the enrollment in 2014. “This growth is not by chance,” says Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “It is the direct result of our concentrated efforts to provide educational opportunities to a broader range of students. Our admissions and enrollment management teams work diligently to expose students across the country to the unique opportunities that exist as part of the Philander experience.”

 The Institution’s rapid rate of growth is gaining recognition. A recent report from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education noted Philander Smith as the fastest growing four-year institution in the state of Arkansas. Additionally, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recognized Philander Smith as the fastest growing Historically Black College or University (HBCU) of its 38 member institutions, growing twice as fast as any other UNCF member school. “Our campus community is thrilled with the enrollment surge, which is evidence of the forward progress being made at our institution,” Smothers says. “This growth comes at a critical time, and shines a light on the key importance of HBCUs and the vital role they play in educating underserved students.”    

 As with many institutions across the country, accelerated enrollment growth can carry with it a number of challenges, one such challenge being capacity. Since 2016, Philander Smith College’s on-site residential campus facilities have been at full capacity, housing more than 400 students. In 2017, the College constructed Panther Village, a residential, living and learning community for scholars located two blocks from the main campus, to address the needs for overflow housing. With the most recent increase, Philander Smith College will look to expand Panther Village. This extension will add six new modular housing units, increasing the number of students the community can accommodate. The added units at Panther Village will alleviate the off-campus overflow which currently results in a number of students being housed at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites in downtown Little Rock.

 “We are committed to providing our students a comfortable, safe and secure housing environment, which we know is essential to their success,” says President Smothers. “We are working expediently to accommodate the accelerated growth with the least amount of disruption to our students’ educational experience.” In keeping with that commitment, the Institution has plans to hire additional 24-hour staffing to cover the growing student community and help ensure security in that area.

 In addition to increasing housing capacity, the Administration at Philander Smith College is working to ensure this growth is not lost. Based on preliminary reports, the College has increased retention more than 10% over the previous year. This a direct result of new policies and programming targeted specifically at retaining students. The record growth and increased retention provide encouraging evidence that Philander Smith College is on a forward trajectory to a bigger and brighter future.

Philander Smith College Receives $200,000 Contribution from Atlanta-Based Food Service Provider, Gourmet Services, Inc.

Little Rock, Ark.  (July 30, 2018) ---  Philander Smith College announced the receipt of a $200,000 donation from campus dining provider, Gourmet Services, Inc, a premier food service management company based in Atlanta, GA. The contribution represents an initial installment of a long-term commitment of financial support to the College.  


With over 40 years of experience in the industry, Gourmet Services, Inc. is the largest wholly-owned minority food service management company in the U.S. and currently manages Philander Smith’s on campus dining program. Its commitment and financial contribution to the College represent a partnership approach that is the foundation of Gourmet Services’ business model. “Our goal is to create a partnership that transcends food and dining services and helps the institution with retention, student services, and the entire student experience,” said Gourmet Services CEO, Valerie Goldston. “We strive to support the institution’s overall needs, thus becoming a true part of the entire campus experience.”

 Philander Smith College, which has reported enrollment growth of over 20% during the last two years, is on an intentional forward trajectory. Philander Smith College President, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., believes partnerships such as this are critical to the College’s new direction. “The goal is to create relationships with organizations that go beyond the services they provide to our campus and position them as part of the College’s long term growth. With Gourmet Services, we have identified a strategic partner who can help achieve our goals not only as it relates to dining, but the overall forward vision.”

In addition to the donation, Gourmet Services, Inc. has also committed to funding aesthetic improvements to the campus dining hall located in the C.J. Duvall Student Center. “With these modifications, we hope to create a more welcoming and friendly atmosphere while also improving the dining experience for students, which is a critical component of their campus life,” said Goldston.


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.