Soul Of America




Return to
Black Colleges Guide





    Established in 1877 to educate former slaves, as such Philander Smith College (PSC) is Arkansas's oldest private HBCU. The predecessor of PSC was Walden Seminary, named in honor of Dr. J. M. Walden, one of the originators of the Freedmen's Aid Society. Miss Helen Perkins served as the first principal. In 1877, the Little Rock Annual Conference to promote Negro teachers designated Walden Seminary as its official educational institution. The Seminary was located at Eighth Street and Broadway in the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church. The first president was Reverend Thomas Mason (1877-1896). In 1879, growth caused the Seminary to moved to Tenth and Center Streets in a suite of rooms at Kendrick Hall.

    In 1882, Mrs. Adeline Smith, widow of Mr. Philander Smith, gift $10,500 for Walden Seminary. PSC trustees accepted the gift and changed the name to Philander Smith College. The school would soon move to a larger site at Eleventh and Izard Streets. Philander Smith was chartered as a four-year college on March 3, 1883. The cornerstone for Budlong Hall was laid in the same year. In 1884 a new dormitory for girls was built and named Adeline Smith Hall. The first baccalaureate degree was conferred in 1888.

    Over a succession of college presidents, physical plant was expanded, academic programs were improved and 40 additional acres purchased at a cost $42,000 for a new site. Primary grades were dropped in 1924. In 1925, the George R. Smith College of Sedalia, Missouri, burned. In 1933, its assets were merged with Philander Smith. In 1936, the high school department was dropped to focus on higher education. Also in 1936, the campus area was greatly enlarged, old buildings were renovated, new buildings were erected.

    In 1948, the site of the Little Rock Junior College, adjacent to PSC, was purchased. Classrooms, a library, a gymnasium, and a chemistry laboratory were added. After extensive academic improvement in 1949, Philander Smith College was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A President's Residence and science building were constructed in 1952.

    In 1958, the College purchased 2-1/2 city blocks of Urban Renewal property adjacent to the campus. In 1959, the College opened a new dormitories for men and women, a student union, and a dining facilities. In 1960, six added blocks of Urban Renewal property enlarged the main campus to 12 city blocks. Dr. Harris was succeeded by Dr. Roosevelt David Crockett as president in 1961. The M. L. Harris Library and Fine Arts Center was completed in 1962. More land and buildings were added to the main campus in the rest of the decade. Dr. Hazzard became the seventh president in 1969. In 1979, Dr. Hazzard was succeeded by Dr. Grant S. Shockley.

    Dr. Grant S. Shockley took office as the eighth president of Philander Smith College on January 1, 1980. Academic programs, faculty, library volumes, student services were all enhanced. In 1983. Under the leadership of President Carter, regional accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools was retained and the Teacher Education Program was approved by the Arkansas State Department of Education. Among its continued growth in physical plant, PSC achieved accreditation of the Teacher Education Program by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in 1993, and accreditation of the Division of Business and Economics by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs in June 1997.



    Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed became the eleventh President and first female President of Philander Smith College. Under her leadership PSC launched the nation's first Black Family Studies Program as an academic discipline. Since 1998, PSC has received grants, appropriations and contributions totaling $37.6 million, including grants from the Rockefeller Family Charitable Trust, Teagle Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and Microsoft. Dr Reed can also be proud of these accomplishments:

  • 90% acceptance rate of students who apply to medical school
  • New Library and Technology Center
  • New student residence hall

   Philander Smith College was the only college in Arkansas to be included in the year 2000 publication, The 201 Best Colleges for the Real World, receiving high marks for quality, convenience and cost. The College offers bachelor's degrees in: Teacher Education, Humanities, Natural and Physical Science, Business and Economics, Social Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education.


   A privately supported, four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Philander Smith College (PSC) has maintained a close relationship with the Church across the years. PSC sits on a 12-square-block campus in the historic Quapaw Quarter of downtown Little Rock. Some buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The College is also big enough to provide a world-renowned choir, inter-collegiate athletics, student government, fraternities and sororities. Various clubs and activities for student enrichment include:


  • Art Guild
  • Biology Club
  • Business Club
  • Forensics Club
  • Little Theater Guild
  • Modern Language Club
  • Psychology Club
  • Student National Education Association
  • Writers Club
  • The Panther, student newspaper
  • Student Christian Association
  • Pre-theological student group
  • Sistahs (college-age unit of the United Methodist Women)

ADDRESS: 812 West 13th Street, Little Rock, AR
PHONE: 501-370-5221


Social Media



National Calendar of Events

Enhance Your Event Travel, Plan Early




Black Spas and Black Inns

Relaxation and Inspiration
may be closer than you think



Copyrights & Trademarks    About Us     Media