Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, has transitioned into a university, making it the second HBCU in Arkansas. The school, now Philander Smith University, joins the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as one of only two historically Black universities in the state.
This achievement has been in the works for a long time. Established in 1877, Philander Smith University had a pivotal role in the founding of the United Negro College Fund and is one of the earliest institutions west of the Mississippi River to educate newly freed Black Americans, according to the school’s official website.
Though this is only a name change to some, it is far more significant for the school. “That one word means that we are moving forward. It means we’re offering a different level of excellence,” said Philander Smith University’s Interim President and CEO, Dr. Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, during a press conference captured by THV11.
Shannon Clowney Johnson, the vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer, shared how this goal came to fruition. “Philander Smith was founded by those who encouraged ‘dare to dream. Their mission [was] to provide formal higher education to train preachers and teachers.”
As HBCUs continue to grow in recognition and accomplishments, Black students have earned opportunities far beyond what some could have imagined and broken into industries they would have never thought possible. Now, Philander Smith University joins in this mission.
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Source: Black Enterprise