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Sat, 11.29.1879

Simmons College of Kentucky Begins Classes

*Simmons College of Kentucky began classes on this date in 1879. They are a private, historically black college (HBCU). Located in Louisville, Kentucky., Simmons is the nation's 107th HBCU. Simmons College of Kentucky is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education to grant certificates and degrees at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels.            


In August 1865, the State Convention of Colored Baptist Churches in Kentucky was organized by pastor Henry Adams. Because there was no place in the state for Blacks to obtain a college education, the Convention soon began discussing the need to create a school to train Negroes, many of whom were one generation removed from slavery. Having first considered Frankfort as the home to the school, members of the Convention instead decided in 1869 to locate what would be known as the Kentucky Normal Theological Institute in Louisville. It was not until 1879 that the trustees of the Convention of Colored Baptist Church in Kentucky purchased 4 acres of land on the corner of 7th & Kentucky Street in Louisville that immediately served as the campus for the school.       


That same year, the school opened its doors under the direction of its first President, Rev. Elijah P. Marrs. After a brief one-year tenure, Rev. Marrs was succeeded by Dr. William J. Simmons. Simmons was an ex-slave who had greatly developed Howard University's teacher training programs. It was under the leadership of Dr. Simmons that the school would begin to flourish in such a way that it would eventually be renamed "Simmons University" in appreciation of his contributions. By 1893, the school had 159 students, and by 1900, it offered professional degrees in nursing and law in cooperation with the University of Louisville. During his 10-year tenure (1880–1890), the school became a full university and expanded its offerings to include liberal arts, college preparatory courses, and medical, law, business, music, and theological departments. Additionally, the school was the home to competitive football, basketball, and baseball teams. 

Simmons University continued to grow and prosper. In 1894, Charles L. Purce became president until he died in 1905. In 1907, the school, now called State University, entered into an affiliation agreement with the Louisville National Medical College to merge the two colleges. In 1918, Charles Parrish became President of the school and improved the school's endowment and academic offerings. The effects of the Great Depression found their way into the school. In 1930, the university was forced to sell its property due to a foreclosure on the mortgage. As a result, the school significantly scaled back its offerings. The University of Louisville purchased the bulk of the property under segregation for the site of Louisville Municipal College, U of L's black branch. Simmons agreed to offer only religious instruction as part of the purchase agreement. In 1934, the University of Louisville purchased the remainder of the property, and Simmons relocated to 18th and Dumesnil. 1982, the school was renamed Simmons Bible College to reflect its mission more adequately. 

In 2005, Dr. Kevin W. Cosby became the 13th President and subsequently changed the school's name to Simmons College of Kentucky to reflect its mission to prepare Christians for ministry while reinstating its initial general education mission. 2006, the school was bought and moved back to its original campus.    


Simmons College has developed four distinct educational programs, plus a commitment to a fifth program objective, focusing on an academic, research-based, faith-based approach to community involvement, interaction, and development. Non-degree programs include a certificate and a diploma in Christian Ministry Studies. Degree programs include the Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Arts, and Associate degrees. Since 2018, the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky has offered a Master of Divinity degree that can be earned entirely through classes taken on the Simmons College campus. Community involvement

Simmons Community Solutions (SCS), a comprehensive community development program, is a significant component of the institutional strategic plan. The target population for SCS is the current student body, the entire Louisville Metro community in general, and Western Louisville in particular. 

Simmons College of Kentucky currently has men's and women's basketball teams. The 2006–07 season was the first time since 1930 that the school sponsored an athletic program.






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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