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Wed, 11.07.1877

Philander Smith College is Founded

*On this date in 1877, We salute Philander Smith College.  Philander Smith College is a private historically black college (HBCU) in Little Rock, Arkansas. They are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, are a founding member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  

Philander Smith College was officially founded under Walden Seminary to provide educational opportunities for freed slaves west of the Mississippi River. In 1882, the school was renamed Philander Smith College in honor of the financial contributions of Adeline Smith, widow of Philander Smith. It was chartered as a four-year college in 1883 and conferred its first bachelor's degree in 1888. In 1933, it merged the George R. Smith College assets in Sedalia, Missouri, which burned down in 1925. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredited 1943 Philander Smith.  

During the 20th century American Civil Rights Movement, Philander Smith College pioneered activism: many of its students engaged in nonviolent resistance against segregation laws or customs (such as sitting in at "whites-only" lunch counters).  Dr. Walter Kimbrough, former president of Philander Smith College, joined the Education Conservancy in criticizing the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings; he signed a letter circulating among college presidents that asks them to refrain from participating in the peer assessment portion of the survey. The school campus is located in central Little Rock.  The core of the campus was initially built for Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock), and a two-block section of it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of its centerpieces is the former U.M. Rose School building, now the Cox Administration Building, designed by the noted Arkansas architect John Parks Almand in 1915 when he worked for Charles L. Thompson. The campus also includes the "Old Gym," a gymnasium built by the WPA during the Great Depression, and a former barracks building of the Camp Robinson Air Force Base, which was moved there in 1948.  

Philander Smith sports teams, nicknamed the Panthers, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Men's sports include basketball and track & field, while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, track & field, and volleyball.  On Feb. 21, 1989, Philander Smith gained a 92-89 victory over Rust College of Holly Springs, Mississippi, on their court, ending the longest home-court winning streak in NCAA Division III women's basketball history.  Philander Smith's 2012-2013 men's basketball team brought home their 1st Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) tournament title.   Notable alumni include Joycelyn Elders and Robert L. Williams.



Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levin Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-864984-2

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