In November 1879 the trustees of the Convention of Colored Baptist Churches in Kentucky purchased four acres of land on the corner of 8th & Kentucky Street in Louisville where they opened the Kentucky Normal Theological Institute. By 1890, the school had become Simmons University and had 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.
In 1930, amidst the Great Depression, the school was facing severe financial difficulties and sold its campus to the University of Louisville. At the time, the University of Louisville was racially segregated and it operated the old Simmons campus as the Louisville Municipal College for the Colored. What was renamed Simmons Bible College continued to operate at a different location, although its operations were significantly scaled back.
When the University of Louisville opened its doors to Black students, the Louisville Municipal College for the Colored was closed and the campus was sold to the local public school district. In 2005, Kevin Cosby, the pastor of the St. Stephens Baptist Church bought the old Simmons campus. In 2007, the school returned to its original campus with Dr. Cosby as president offering three degree programs in religious students. Dr. Cosby began an effort to restore the college to a full-fledged institution of higher education. He enlisted and received support from the University of Louisville and other area educational institutions.
Dr. Cosby’s efforts culminated last week when the Association for Biblical Higher Education granted accreditation to what is now known as Simmons College of Kentucky. Now with accreditation, students at Simmons College of Kentucky can receive Pell Grants and other federal financial aid. The newly accredited college plans to expand course offerings next fall.
Dr. Cosby is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. He holds a master of divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a doctor of divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.