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 www.hlcommission.org/comment.

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 www.rethinksocialjustice.org.




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.

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 rethinksocialjustice.org.

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.

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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 jprimm@philander.edu 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 https://www.philander.edu/homecoming2017 or in person at the PSC Office of Institutional Advancement. Sponsorships are also available. For more information, contact Nathan Cochran at nchocran@philander.edu 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 jprimm@philander.edu 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 https://sites.ed.gov/whhbcu/.




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.