Philander Smith College to make historical announcement of transition to university status

written by Julissa Garza

August 1, 2023, LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tuesday marked a monumental day for Philander Smith College in Little Rock as officials announced its transition to a university.

The new title makes Philander Smith University, which opened in 1877, the second historically Black university in Arkansas, joining the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“That one word means that we’re moving forward,” said Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, Philander Smith University interim president and CEO.” It means we’re offering a different level of excellence.”

Those 146 years of excellence have culminated in 20 different majors and about 1,000 students enrolled.

“Philander Smith was founded by those who encouraged ‘dare to dream,'” said Shannon Clowney Johnson, Philander Smith University vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer. “Their mission [was] to provide formal higher education to train preachers and teachers.”

Hopson said the new status would help the university grow academically and enhance research opportunities.

“We are absolutely ready to move forward and conquer the rest of the world,” Hopson said. 

Philander Smith University now offers a master’s in Business Administration and is exploring other master’s degree programs. The university said several new undergraduate programs are also in the works.

More information about The Philander Smith University transition is available here.

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