Tamika S. Edwards Named Executive Director of the Social Justice Institute

Following an extensive national search, Philander Smith College (PSC) has announced that Tamika S. Edwards, J.D., has been selected to lead the College’s Social Justice Institute. The appointment, which makes Edwards the second Executive Director in the Institute’s history, will begin September 4.

Established by Philander Smith College in 2007, the Social Justice Institute is the central incubator for the College’s focus on its mission to “graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice….” In recent years, the Social Justice Institute has been inspired to rethink

and re-imagine its approach to justice-driven education. With a newly broadened scope, the Social Justice Institute has reorganized with the intent of making a greater impact not only locally, but also regionally and nationwide.

“We are thrilled that Tamika Edwards is joining us to lead the critical work of the Social Justice Institute, the heart and soul of the campus culture at Philander Smith College. We are confident in her tremendous ability and experience in bringing people together to help enact meaningful change.

Furthermore, her passion for addressing policies that breed inequality will help to elevate the Social Justice Institute’s status as a regional center and resource for justice work,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Edwards has nearly twenty years of experience in public policy and community development. Most recently, she served as Director of Governmental Affairs at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) where she led the development and execution of the organization’s legislative strategy. Prior to AACF, she was Director of Public Policy at Southern Bancorp Community Partners and previously served as Community Affairs Specialist in the Office of U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.

“I am beyond excited about the opportunity to lead the courageous work of the Social Justice Institute,” said Edwards, continuing, “As we move forward on a bold new path, the Social Justice Institute will strive to train advocates who are willing to challenge the lack of fair and just relations in our society and recognize the public policies that contribute to inequitable systems. I look forward to working with the amazing students, talented faculty and staff, as well as our entire community, to address the conditions and public policies that contribute to social injustice.”

Edwards earned the Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), the Master’s Degree in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and the Juris Doctor from the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law. In addition to serving in numerous community leadership roles, she is a contributor to Talk Business and Politics, a news website that covers business, politics, and culture throughout Arkansas. In 2017, she was recognized in the inaugural edition of The Arkansas 200, published by Arkansas Business, as a leader “who influences the way we live, learn and do business in the state.”

With its most recent activities and events—to include a refreshed brand and look, to its Law and Justice Summit for local leaders, to its first-ever two-day ‘JusticeCon2018’ convening targeted at awakening and nurturing social justice activism in students—the Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College is poised to become a global leader in justice education by inspiring and equipping students, thought-leaders, activists and community members to tackle the work of combatting inequity. More information about the Social Justice Institute can be found at www.rethinksocialjustice.org.

Philander Smith College Enrollment Grows by Double Digits for the Third Year in a Row

For the third year in a row, Philander Smith College is experiencing double digit growth in enrollment. The College is closing out its first week of classes, and preliminary reports show an almost 15% increase over last year’s enrollment.

The trending growth comes after the institution experienced consecutive years of decline in enrollment, dropping as low as 500 students in recent history. Projections calculate this year’s enrollment at over 1,000 students, almost doubling the enrollment in 2014. “This growth is not by chance,” says Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “It is the direct result of our concentrated efforts to provide educational opportunities to a broader range of students. Our admissions and enrollment management teams work diligently to expose students across the country to the unique opportunities that exist as part of the Philander experience.”

The Institution’s rapid rate of growth is gaining recognition. A recent report from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education noted Philander Smith as the fastest growing four-year institution in the state of Arkansas. Additionally, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recognized Philander Smith as the fastest growing Historically Black College or University (HBCU) of its 38 member institutions, growing twice as fast as any other UNCF member school. “Our campus community is thrilled with the enrollment surge, which is evidence of the forward progress being made at our institution,” Smothers says. “This growth comes at a critical time, and shines a light on the key importance of HBCUs and the vital role they play in educating underserved students.”

As with many institutions across the country, accelerated enrollment growth can carry with it a number of challenges, one such challenge being capacity. Since 2016, Philander Smith College’s on-site residential campus facilities have been at full capacity, housing more than 400 students. In 2017, the College constructed Panther Village, a residential, living and learning community for scholars located two blocks from the main campus, to address the needs for overflow housing. With the most recent increase, Philander Smith College will look to expand Panther Village. This extension will add six new modular housing units, increasing the number of students the community can accommodate. The added units at Panther Village will alleviate the off-campus overflow which currently results in a number of students being housed at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites in downtown Little Rock.

“We are committed to providing our students a comfortable, safe and secure housing environment, which we know is essential to their success,” says President Smothers. “We are working expediently to accommodate the accelerated growth with the least amount of disruption to our students’ educational experience.” In keeping with that commitment, the Institution has plans to hire additional 24-hour staffing to cover the growing student community and help ensure security in that area.

In addition to increasing housing capacity, the Administration at Philander Smith College is working to ensure this growth is not lost. Based on preliminary reports, the College has increased retention more than 10% over the previous year. This a direct result of new policies and programming targeted specifically at retaining students. The record growth and increased retention provide encouraging evidence that Philander Smith College is on a forward trajectory to a bigger and brighter future.

Philander Smith College Receives $200,000 Contribution from Atlanta-Based Food Service Provider, Gourmet Services, Inc.

Philander Smith College announced the receipt of a $200,000 donation from campus dining provider, Gourmet Services, Inc, a premier food service management company based in Atlanta, GA. The contribution represents an initial installment of a long-term commitment of financial support to the College.

Photo of two people holding a large check.With over 40 years of experience in the industry, Gourmet Services, Inc. is the largest wholly-owned minority food service management company in the U.S. and currently manages Philander Smith’s on campus dining program. Its commitment and financial contribution to the College represent a partnership approach that is the foundation of Gourmet Services’ business model. “Our goal is to create a partnership that transcends food and dining services and helps the institution with retention, student services, and the entire student experience,” said Gourmet Services CEO, Valerie Goldston. “We strive to support the institution’s overall needs, thus becoming a true part of the entire campus experience.”

Philander Smith College, which has reported enrollment growth of over 20% during the last two years, is on an intentional forward trajectory. Philander Smith College President, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., believes partnerships such as this are critical to the College’s new direction. “The goal is to create relationships with organizations that go beyond the services they provide to our campus and position them as part of the College’s long term growth. With Gourmet Services, we have identified a strategic partner who can help achieve our goals not only as it relates to dining, but the overall forward vision.”

In addition to the donation, Gourmet Services, Inc. has also committed to funding aesthetic improvements to the campus dining hall located in the C.J. Duvall Student Center. “With these modifications, we hope to create a more welcoming and friendly atmosphere while also improving the dining experience for students, which is a critical component of their campus life,” said Goldston.

New Policy: Philander Smith College Employees Licensed to Carry Guns Can’t Bring them to Work

Philander Smith College employees who have concealed weapons licenses must leave their guns at home according to its board of trustees opting out of a state law,  and a new employee policy. 

 

The Firearm and Weapons policy buttresses the board’s decision to opt out of the state’s campus gun law. The board voted at its May 3 meeting to prevent employees with concealed weapons licenses from bringing their guns to work. This act prompted the campus to create a policy notifying employees of the college’s rules and regulations regarding concealed weapons licenses.

 

The state law — Act 226 of 2013 — allows trained and licensed faculty and staff members at private and public colleges to carry concealed handguns at their schools. It goes into affect Aug. 16.

 

“Our policy reflects the board’s decision and informs our employees of their rights as they work on this campus,” said Chief Jack Matlock, director of Philander Smith College’s security detail. “We have armed security officers on our campus who are adequately trained to protect students, staff and faculty. We’ve don’t need anyone else carrying guns on this campus.”

 

The policy states that “All members of the College community, including faculty, staff, and students are prohibited from possessing, using or storing firearms, explosives or weapons on the premises of the College without the explicit authorization of the College, whether or not a state concealed carrier license to possess the same has been issued to the possessor. You may possess tear-gas type products in personal use quantities for self-defense, but you may not use them for purposes other than self-defense. Violation of this policy may be punishable by disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, expulsion and/or contact of local law enforcement officials.”

 

Philander Smith College employs about 250 during the school year.  It’s unknown how many of these employees have concealed weapons licenses.

Board Member Donates $1 Million of own Funds to Build New Campus Center

The Philander Smith College Board of Trustees approved today constructing a new student activities building on the 135-year-old campus, and Trustee C.J. Duvall donated $1 million toward the project’s completion.

“I’ve already given close to 60 percent of the pledged amount and I’m fine with going public with this information,” said Duvall. “I’m hoping it would compel others to donate to this effort. These students and this campus deserve our support.”

There have been several other significant gifts from board members given towards the project which is expected to take a year to complete. Funding for the project has been secured with capital like Duvall’s, but also a U.S. Department of Education $10 million loan.

The site has been cleared for construction crews to break ground on the $8 million single-story Campus Center that as part of Phase I is to include a student union, a dining facility, a bistro and outdoor seating areas. Phase II of the project will include offices for the Department of Student Affairs staff and faculty, a bookstore and meeting rooms. The second phase of the construction will be determined at a later date. But today’s board approval gives a green light to breaking ground on a site that has been prepared since last fall.

The 27,000 square-foot building will be like other recently completed campus construction projects built with environmental-friendly materials – Suite A and B Residential Life Centers, which opened in 2010 and 2011.

“I’m delighted that the board approved this project,” said Dr. Johnny Moore, president of Philander Smith College. “Today’s board actions reflect the direction our campus is growing towards as I develop a foundation to recommend building with purpose. From reshaping our academics to updating our infrastructure and facilities our students deserve the best. As we generate more support for this project, Mr. Duvall has set the bar high for others to step forward…I would support calling this new facility the C.J. Duvall Campus Center. His support for this institution is proven by his generosity. We thank him and all of our board members who believe in the future of Philander Smith College.”

Nabholz Construction Services is the general contractor over the project and Taggart Architects designed the building.

For more in details on the Campus Center construction project, contact Shareese Kondo, director of Public Relations and Marketing, (501) 370-5279; or (501) 519-1556; skondo@philander.edu. High resolution renderings of the building are available.

Philander Smith - Campus Center Phase 1

Inauguration Ceremony of Johnny M. Moore, Ph.D. 13th President of Philander Smith College

Johnny Moore

Who:
Bob Birch, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Philander Smith College and officials of the United Methodist Conference of Arkansas will preside over the inauguration ceremony of the college’s 13th President, Johnny M. Moore, Ph.D.

When:
3 p.m., Friday, May 3, 2013

Where:
M.L. Harris Auditorium, 900 Daisy Bates Dr., Little Rock

Founded in 1877, Philander Smith College is a privately funded, four-year liberal arts career-oriented institution supported by the General Board of Higher Education and a ministry of the United Methodist Church. This college has a rich legacy of providing an educational experience that embraces academic excellence, builds self-esteem and cultivates critical thinking skills and prepares students to be future leaders and advocates for social justice. Our current enrollment is 658 students.

Moore will be available for media interviews following the ceremony in the Office of the President located inside the Kendall Center on campus.

To obtain more information, contact Shareese Kondo, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, at Philander Smith College, (501) 370-5279, or (501) 519-1556, skondo@philander.edu.

Johnny Matthew Moore

Johnny Moore didn’t have a Plan B when his pro basketball dreams never materialized, but a romantic trip led to a Florida college. His heart never left Arkansas, though, and he returned last summer to take the helm at his alma mater, Philander Smith College.

By L. LAMOR WILLIAMS

As a small-town boy from southwest Arkansas, Johnny Moore dreamed basketball would be the vehicle that would take him to the big city and, more importantly, the big bucks.
It seemed possible. Likely, even. He had earned basketball scholarships to Philander Smith College and the University of Texas at El Paso, where NBA great Tim Hardaway would’ve been a classmate.

But as an impressive senior year – where Moore was averaging about 28 points per game for Philander Smith – drew to a close in 1989, Hardaway would be known for his “UTEP two-step” and Moore would still be waiting for a call from the scouts. It never came.

“You assume you’ll get picked up by some team, but there are no phone calls and you start wondering, what am I going to do? Fortunately, I had studied a little bit, so I had other opportunities academically,” said Moore, who today is president and chief executive of his alma mater. “I didn’t have a just-in-case in mind so I decided to go to grad school. … I thought [a master’s degree] would buy me more time, but they still didn’t call.”

Moore, 46, will be officially inaugurated as the university’s 13th president May 3 inside Harris Auditorium, just in time to preside over the school’s commencement ceremony the following day.

It hardly seems improbable today, this lofty academic spot, but Moore began graduate school at Arkansas State University still thinking about pro basketball. The closest he came to that dream was the day he took the court with former Harlem Globetrotter Geese Ausbie and his Geese Ausbie All-Stars. The team was playing a game not far from Jonesboro and was one man down. Ausbie called Moore as a temporary fill-in.

Because of school, Moore couldn’t travel around the country with the All-Stars and Ausbie encouraged him to continue his studies.

“When you look at my resume you might think, ‘Wow, this guy had it together,’ but I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do in terms of a professional career outside of sports,” Moore said from across a round table in his spacious office at Philander Smith.

CAREER-MINDED ROMANTIC

While finishing his graduate degree at ASU, Moore took a teaching position at East Arkansas Community College, where he met his wife, Sequoyah, who was a student there. He was engaged and living in Forrest City, but a chance trip to Florida for a romantic getaway led Moore to Indian River Community (now State) College.

“It was Feb. 12, [1994]. Sequoyah was my fiancee at the time and said we never do anything romantic. I was looking at the Chronicle of Higher Education and noticed an advertisement that said, ‘Visit the state of Florida.It’s the Great 28’ because they have 28 community colleges. There was a minority job fair and I thought: ‘Oh man, I’ve never been to Florida. It’s near Valentine’s Day. The fiancee is harassing me that we never do anything romantic. I got it!”’

That spark of romance and, OK, an ulterior career-minded motive, was how Moore ended up at a job fair that weekend.

“We were there for 16 years.”

Moore rose through the ranks at the Fort Pierce, Fla., community college, becoming a tenured professor and then vice president of student affairs. Success notwithstanding, the fresh start was bittersweet.

The day after the move, his mother died and his family returned to Arkansas for her funeral. After they returned to Florida, getting closer to home and aging parents was never far from their thoughts.

Johnathan was born eight years ago and they yearned for him to know his grandparents. They wanted to be closer to home.

So where is home, exactly? He generally tells people he’s from Hope. It’s the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton and is more recognizable, even to Arkansans, than Old Washington. “And really [home] is in between Old Washington and Hope. So it’s just somewhere,” he says.

“A funny thing is that our home address where we lived as kids said Old Washington, but our phone was a Hope prefix, 777, and our electricity and gas was Texarkana, so you tell me where I’m from.”

Moore’s ascension in academia seems like a series of happy coincidences. And one such coincidence got him and his budding family closer to home.

THE PRESIDENCY

Even in Florida, Moore’s career had caught the attention of Mike Metke, president of Tyler Junior College in Texas, less than three hours from Moore’s home town.

“I had heard about him and his reputation and that he’d been considered for presidencies already and was getting recognition,” Metke said. “If he came to a college like Tyler, I thought it would help him move into a presidency. It was really as much a matter of us recruiting him as him being an applicant.”

Moore was executive vice president of student affairs at the junior college when he was picked a year ago to lead Philander Smith, which this semester enrolled 658 students.
“He was every bit and more of what I had heard. He exceeded all our expectations, and our expectations were pretty high.”

Generally, when someone cites as a best quality an ability to “see the big picture” and “bring people together,” such assessments seem cliched at best, disingenuous at worst, but colleagues and friends struggle to find more artful language to sum it up for Moore.

“I saw him as a future president and, frankly, I would’ve loved to see him succeed me here at Tyler. He has great interpersonal skills and is a visionary who can bring people together,” Metke said. “Oftentimes, when you have a leader of a unit, that person only advocates for and tries to secure as much of the campus’ resources for that unit as possible. With Johnny, it wasn’t about how much money he could wrestle from the budget for his area, but what was best for the entire college. He was great at finding innovative ways to partner with other departments.

“There are lots of people I work with who are colleagues and whom I respect. But above all that, I really like Johnny Moore. He’s fun to work with.”

He’s a great basketball player too, Metke said.

“We were just talking about our intramural basketball games … I think he surprised some of the young students. [We] had a very competitive intramural team because of Johnny. He might not be able to dunk the ball, but he’s a really good shot. Still makes the three-pointers.”

Where building partnerships is his greatest strength, Moore sees his age as his greatest challenge.

“I’m not that old,” he said. “I have experience but this is my first year as president. I’ve been in higher education for 23 years … executive-level for 10 years. I’m not set in my ways [which] I guess is a strength and a weakness at the same time.”

That’s humble, says Sherman Tate, a Little Rock business owner, Philander Smith alumnus and former board member who was serving when previous PresidentWalter Kimbrough was hired, but Moore’s age can only be a huge asset for one of the state’s historically black colleges.

“I saw him as a younger man, which was good coming on the heels of Dr. Kimbrough, who was also a young man. The students seem to identify with younger leadership. What I saw in him was energy and commitment. I can’t overstate how important it is to have someone coming back that started their academic training at Philander Smith College. He understands the college’s unique history.”

Where Kimbrough was known as the “hip-hop president,” Moore is more likely to become known as the “jazz president.” He has a calming yet commanding, easygoing but upbeat demeanor, where Kimbrough, who left Philander to lead Dillard University in New Orleans, seemed like a live wire, a bundle of energy just waiting to be expended on the next project.

DIVERSITY 2.0

For Moore, the next project is completing the school’s latest five-year strategic plan. The most recent plan ended in 2012. Moore didn’t reveal details of the next plan, but he wants to expand the college’s distance learning and studyabroad programs.

The college is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and “part of our mission is to create disciples for Christ and try to prepare them to make a difference in the world,” Moore said. “To do that, we need a lot of diversity not only among students but among the staff.”

Can there be so much diversity that it’s no longer “an HBCU,” the acronym for historically black college or university?

“Unfortunately, years ago African-Americans could not go to predominately white institutions, but these institutions [HBCUs] have always been open to people regardless of race, ethnicity … you name it,” he said. “That’s also part of our mission. So I don’t think so.”

The Philander Smith of today is a vastly different campus from the one Moore attended in 1989. The building that houses his office didn’t even exist, nor did the one next to it. He played basketball games at the Dunbar Recreation Center; such were the options for indoor athletics on the school grounds.

A few faculty members remain who knew him then. Frank James, the vice president of academic affairs, taught him calculus. A Philander alumnus and former football player, James said he readily identified with theyoung Moore.

“My class was very early in the morning. It was scheduled at 7 a.m. I started at 6:45 a.m. and seldom did I ever finish on time. I believed that students should get their full money’s worth. One thing I remember about Johnny was his determination, his ability to stick to a task.”

James knew that determination alone might not be enough to get the 5-foot-11-inch Moore to the NBA, no matter how talented he was.

“I would never discourage a student’s dreams, but I always advised them to have a Plan B,” James said. “At the time he came through, NBA contracts weren’t as big as they are now. They didn’t have a [development] league like they do now. If he had come through now, I think he would’ve been picked up.”

But then, what of Philander Smith College? What of a dream deferred? As thepoet Langston Hughes put it, sometimes it explodes.

“In all of my students that have done well, I take a certain pride, but in Johnny’s case, I take particular pride,” James said. “He’s going to make his own legacy and I hope that legacy will be as large as my pride for him getting this job.”

Moore today leads chapel services in the same building where he once sat daydreaming – a finger-roll layup over an opposing center, a buzzer-beater from six feet beyond the arc, all that NBA acclaim.

“We have President’s Chapel: I talk to them about leadership … was telling them dream big because several years ago, I was in those same seats listening to the president and I had no idea that one day I would be the college president,” he said. “Being a college president was not on my radar; as I told you before, I was all about basketball. I told them that if I can do it, they can do it. I tell them to take it serious. I took it serious but not seriously enough. I didn’t dream big enough.”

SELF PORTRAIT Johnny Moore
BORN: Nov. 30, 1966, in Old Washington, Ark.
FAMILY: Wife Sequoyah, son Johnathan and daughter Jayna
WHAT’S ALWAYS BESIDE MY BED: My iPhone
MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE HOUSE IS my study. This is a place where there’s no TV. It’s not an office because I don’t work in there. I don’t take my cell phone in there. It’s a place where I catch up on reading. There’s only one person who’s allowed to come in there and bother me when I’m in that room and that’s my 15-month-old because I can’t control her.
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS a book on leadership, The Advantage.
WHAT’S ALWAYS IN THE FRIDGE: Ozarka spring water.
MY GUILTY PLEASURE: Ice cream. I am an ice cream fanatic. I have a banana split almost every other night. I have an 8-year-old, he comes downstairs and that’s what we usually do. I’m thinking about getting some ice cream right now.
MY LAST MEAL: I’m a country boy. I love when my wife makes a Sunday-type meal [of] yams, chicken, green beans, cornbread. That’s one of those meals you eat on Sunday and watch football and sleep.
I WON’T EAT beets. They’re disgusting!
ONE ON ONE, YOU AND PRESIDENT OBAMA … No question. I would win hands down. And, there would be no need for a recount.
ON A DESERT ISLAND I WOULD NEED: Something to read. I wouldn’t need a TV or anything as long as I have something to read.
ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE ME: Focused

Panther Men Ranked #22 in Latest NAIA Top 25 Poll

Philander Smith College has earned a spot in the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Top 25 teams in the nation poll. According to the NAIA, Philander Smith is ranked No. 22, is listed in the ranking for the first time since 2000 – 01. Philander Smith brings a nine-game win streak into its next contest against No. 13 Xavier this Saturday.

This has not been an easy journey for the Panthers as they have suffered numerous close calls in the quest for success, recovering from multiple-overtime and double-overtime wins in the last few weeks alone. The Panthers have dug deep and used a combination of offensive and defensive tactics to overcome their competition.

The poll announcement was made on the eve of Philander’s overtime win against Talladega College, where the Panthers performed in front a rowdy away crowd, to once again come out victorious. With top offensive performances from Juvon Demerson (22 points, 7 rebounds); D’Alvin Brown (19 points, 5 rebounds); and Clayton Busby (18 points, 5 rebounds), the Panthers used and all-around approach to get the job done.

With less than 20 seconds left in overtime, D’Alvin Brown fearlessly drove to the basket, drawing increased attention from Talladega’s defenders. As Brown released the ball towards the rim, the defender stealthily snatched the ball from the iron. Consequently, the defender was charged with a goal-tending offense, placing Philander Smith up by one. Talladega was unable to produce on the offensive end, which led to Philander Smith recording its ninth consecutive win and improving its conference record to 4-0 in GCAC play (13-4 overall).

The Panthers travel to New Orleans Saturday to take on Xavier College. Tip off is at Noon for the men and 2 p.m. for the women’s teams.

Philander Smith College Scholar Highlighted in UNCF’s Nationally Televised “An Evening of Stars”

A Philander Smith College freshman, Latavia Hill, 18, from Chicago, will be featured in the upcoming “UNCF’s An Evening of Stars” televised fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund. The show airs Sunday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. on Black Entertainment Television channels around the nation.

Hill is featured on the program because of her amazing drive and determination to attend college on a full scholarship. She received the Chicago Public Schools’ Teachers scholarship to attend a historically black college or university. She selected Philander Smith College with the help our recruitment team and the lure of such a prestigious academic center located in a beautiful city.

This year’s show is presented by Target and will be hosted by Anthony Anderson of NBC’s Guys With Kids. Other featured guests include: Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Charlie Wilson, Keyshia Cole, Trey Songz, Tyrese Gibson and many, many more.

To preview Latavia’s appearance on the show click the link below:

https://silo.mediasilo.com/quicklink/064F1863BA457E5A468B1B63CFE8435D/matt.carvette@gmail.com/

Philander Smith College is the only UNCF-supported campus in Arkansas.

For more information contact, Shareese Kondo, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, at (501)370-5279 or at skondo@philander.edu.

Philander Smith College Receives $1.7 Million Grant to Expand Students’ Interests in STEM Careers

Philander Smith College’s Division of Natural and Physical Sciences received a $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Undergraduate Program. The program aims to increase the number of minorities graduating from an HBCU with degrees centered on careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Philander Smith College received the first phase of this project’s funding in 2006 with an allocated amount of $3 million. That funding phase expires in February 2013. The second phase of the project’s $1.75 million grant extends from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2017.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Philander Smith College to continue recruiting students interested in pursuing stable, prosperous careers,” said Dr. Frank James, Vice President of Academic Affairs, who is among the faculty overseeing the project. “We use this funding to offer courses that enrich students’ minds and prepare them for careers that secure their futures.”
Drs. Samar Swaid, Cynthia Burroughs and Chantia Hickman work with Dr. James to develop courses, programs, partnerships and seminars to carry out the terms of the project. Their curriculums under the project aim to increase students’ success, retention and persistence in STEM education. These courses also strengthen students’ preparation for graduate and medical school entrance exams. These faculty members work to enhance our current STEM undergraduate research infrastructure; improve STEM education by developing and implementing Transformative Cyber infrastructure-based Strategy in Teaching and Learning; and effectively prepare incoming high school students for transitioning into college-level STEM courses.
“We hope to experience continued growth in STEM at Philander Smith College as our STEM majors have increased from 81 in 2007 to 221 in 2011. This can be directly related to student interests evolving to more scientific fields. The HBCU-UP grant funded by the National Science Foundation has influenced these numbers, as well.” said Dr. Frank James.