Philander Smith College Officially Changes Name to Philander Smith University

This is the Methodist-affiliated HBCU’s first name change since 1882.

Philander Smith College, a 146-year-old Black college, has officially changed its name to Philander Smith University following the announcement of their first graduate degree program.

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Prior to his resignation in May, former university president Roderick Smothers announced that the Methodist-affiliated Little Rock, Ark.-based HBCU would award master’s in business administration degrees. To commemorate the addition, under the direction of interim president Cynthia Bond Hopson, the institution will officially be Philander Smith University.

This change is the first in more than 200 years from the school, seeing their first name change in 1882. Established in 1877, the school was originally Walden Seminary in honor of Dr. J.M. Walden, one of the originators and the first corresponding secretary of the Freedmen's Aid Society to make education available to former African American enslaved people. Five years later, the name was changed to honor the financial contributions of Philander Smith and widow Adeline Smith who aided in the construction and expansion of what the college is today.

Current student enrollment is at 710, according to U.S. News and World Report, which ranked the school at No. 40 among HBCUs and 41 in southern regional colleges.

The name change comes as the school opens its  new community center for their Social Justice Hub and the renovation of the Dr. Joycelyn Elders School of Allied and Public Health.

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