Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, Transitions to University Status

Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, is no more. The educational institution has transitioned to Philander Smith University. The university now offers an MBA program.

Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College was the first attempt west of the Mississippi River to make education available to freedmen (former African American slaves). The forerunner of the college was Walden Seminary, named in honor of Dr. J.M. Walden, one of the originators and the first corresponding secretary of the Freedmen’s Aid Society. The name was changed to honor a major donor to the college. Philander Smith College was chartered as a four-year college on March 3, 1883. The first baccalaureate degree was conferred in 1888.

Today, Philander Smith University enrolls about 800 students. Some 85 percent of the students are African Americans.

In a statement, the university explained that “by becoming a university, the institution aims to elevate its academic offerings, broaden its scope of influence, and foster a dynamic learning environment for students. This transition reflects the college’s commitment to growth, innovation, and excellence in higher education.”

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