Philander Smith College Celebrates Black History by Recognizing High School Excellence

For the last four years, Philander Smith College has dedicated a special Black History Month celebration to recognize local high school academic all-stars during the African American High School Honors Ceremony. Since its inception, the program has honored over nearly 1,000 high school seniors from Central Arkansas schools. This year’s event, which took place on Sunday, February 23 in the Crawford J. Mims Gymnasium was the largest yet, with approximately 300 students receiving recognition. 

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Established to celebrate academic excellence in the African American community among high school seniors with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, the program honors students from several school districts throughout the area including charter and private schools. In addition to recognition for their high school academic performance, Philander Smith also awards scholarships to eligible student attendees. For the 2020 program, a total of approximately $7.5 million in scholarships were announced.

“Because Central Arkansas is home to such bright and talented young people, it was our desire to not only applaud the outstanding high school careers of young scholars, but to also afford them with an opportunity to earn a first-class college education right here at Philander Smith,” said President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “We could not think of a better way to help observe Black History Month than by placing in the spotlight the next generation of future leaders and history-makers with an effort to encourage higher education.”

 A highlight of the afternoon were the two current PSC scholars featured as speakers, both of whom are from Little Rock and are alumni of the program to honor high school excellence. Jamese Lambert, ’21 and Nia James, ’20, attended the ceremony as high school seniors and their experiences in being recognized and awarded scholarships led them to alter their plans and enroll in Philander Smith College.

 Following the ceremony, the student honorees, their families, and guests were invited to a reception in the atrium of the Kendall Center where they were able to network with PSC faculty, staff, Division Chairs and current students to gain firsthand knowledge of the Philander experience – to include academic programs, financial aid resources and student services.

Crenchaw Aviation Exhibit Lands Permanent Home at Philander Smith College Library

Philander Smith College is proud to now serve as home for the Dr. Milton Pitts Crenchaw exhibit. Unveiled on Friday, February 21 at its new location in the D.W. Reynolds Library and Technology Center, the exhibit was previously installed at the Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport. The now permanent fixture highlights the life and work of the former Tuskegee Airman who was a native of Little Rock. A historical figure across the nation, Crenchaw led the first successful flight instructor program at Philander Smith College in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mr. Charles King, VP for Institutional Advancement, and Dr. Michele Wise-Wright, President of the Milton Pitts Crenchaw Aviation Training Academy (MPCATA), led the installation ceremony which was attended by MPCATA Board Members, Philander Smith College faculty, students, staff and members of the community.

Philander Smith College and UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law Create Pipeline for Minority Law Students

Philander Smith College and The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law announced on Tuesday, October 16, 2019 a joint-effort to create a 4+3 pipeline program.

 This new partnerships recognizes Philander Smith College’s commitment to preparing aspiring students for law school and provides guaranteed acceptance to Bowen for Philander graduates who meet specific criteria.

 “Bowen consistently attracts quality applicants.” said Assistant Dean of Admissions Matthew Kerns. “With competition to enter the law school increasing, these programs reinforce our commitment to Philander Smith College students and the Little Rock community and ensure that highly motivated graduates have spots at the law school.”

 Philander Smith College alumni qualify for the 4+3 program if they earned a minimum cumulative UGPA of 3.40; scored a 154 or above on the LSAT; and have no character and fitness issues that would disqualify them from being admitted to the bar. Prospective students can apply to the Law School through lsac.org. Students must apply to Bowen and satisfactorily complete all admissions requirements.

 In addition to this program and other scholarship opportunities, Bowen offers a 25% tuition scholarship to accepted students who earned a bachelor’s degree from an Arkansas historically black college or university.  

 “We are incredibly gratified to be a partner with the Bowen School of Law to expand access to law school for our students,” said Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “As an institution rooted and grounded in social justice, we aim to graduate leaders who are equipped to fight inequality. This opportunity aligns with our mission, ensuring that legal scholars will be well-prepared for the front lines of service.”

 Bowen prepares students for a variety of careers, including roles as attorneys, judges, or other public service leadership positions.

 This is the law school’s third pipeline program. Bowen has another 4+3 program with UA Little Rock.  Similarly, Philander Smith College has a 3+2 program with University of Arkansas Fayetteville for Engineering and a 4+1 program for Public Health with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Inaugural Scholar in Residence is named for Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College

The Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College has named Donna Hylton to serve as its first Scholar in Residence for a term that commences Sept. 9.

Hylton is deeply involved in movements for social justice around the country, drawing upon her experience being imprisoned in a women’s correctional facility for 27 years.

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“I am thrilled and so honored for this opportunity,” said Hylton. “During my residency at Philander Smith College, I hope to bring my story to the classroom and to Little Rock, as well as an afford an opportunity to bring an authentic view of the criminal justice system to ensure the dignity and humanity of those interacting with it –from the inside, out.”

The ‘Scholar in Residence’ is a part of the Institute’s strategy to engage Philander Smith College students and the broader community in gaining a deeper understanding of social justice and the ways in which people can make a meaningful impact. “We understand social justice as an umbrella that covers a vast number of issues that includes – but is not limited to – race, economics, gender, LGBTQ, food, education, prison, health and environmental injustices,” said Tamika S. Edwards,  Social Justice Institute Executive Director. “Ms. Hylton will provide a diverse approach toward these important issues to broaden the worldview of our student body and surrounding community.”

Through the Scholar in Residence program, combined with a number of other partnerships and events, the Social Justice Institute aims to further the conversation on social justice and move the program to a model of intentional impact. PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. believes this approach is foundational to helping grow the Institute to a regional center for justice-centered education.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Hylton as part of our efforts to broaden the scope of our Social Justice Institute,” said President Smothers. “We look forward to our Scholar in Residence’s engaging work and focus on helping our students and those beyond our campus to not only understand their responsibility to injustices, but to also be committed to advocacy and eradication of inequalities.”

Hylton’s first public appearance is slated to be a reading and of her memoir, A Little Piece of Light, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at the Little Rock Barnes & Noble bookstore.  The following day, Saturday, Sept. 14, she will be a guest speaker at the 2nd Annual DecARcerate Conference that will be held at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock wherescholars, advocates, and formerly incarcerated people will discuss Arkansas’ systems of mass incarceration and criminalization.

Philander Smith Welcomes Dr. Phillip Pointer to College’s Faculty

Saint Mark Senior Pastor to Chair PSC Department of Philosophy and Religion

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Phillip L. Pointer to the institution’s faculty in 2019-20 as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. 

Pointer is the Senior Pastor of the Saint Mark Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in Little Rock, which he has led since 2012. Prior to relocating with his family to Arkansas, he was Senior Pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., which became Providence St. John Baptist Church once it merged with another church ministry. 

“As we embark upon a new academic term, we are elated about the addition of Dr. Phillip Pointer to our faculty. This dynamic theologian will help the College re-align with our bedrock mission of training highly qualified ministers and teachers,” stated PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.  “His keen intellect and philosophical and religious insight will empower us to mold the Department of Philosophy and Religion into a contemporary model in which to serve the diverse needs of today’s ministries.”  

 “I’m extremely excited to join the faculty at Philander Smith College,” said Dr. Pointer.  “This opportunity allows me to expand the scope of my work as Senior Pastor of Saint Mark and to help shape the lives and minds of young scholars. Saint Mark is excited to be a partner with this historic institution.”

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, and reared in Washington, D.C., Pointer holds a Master of Divinity from The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Philander Smith College Student Recognized as 2019-2020 White House Competitiveness Scholar

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities has named Paola Vazquez, a junior at Philander Smith College, among 44 students from 34 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) as a 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars – the Initiative’s highest student recognition.

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Paola Vazquez, a junior at Philander Smith College

Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for successfully preparing to compete for top opportunities that improve long-term outcomes. Each was nominated and endorsed by their institution President, which itself is an honorable mention. Johnathan Holifield, Executive Director of the Initiative, said “the Initiative’s watchword is competitiveness and these students are fine examples of the depth and diversity of competitive talent at our institutions. We are honored to recognize them.”

Vazquez, who is a native of Little Rock, is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. An honors student and active participant on campus, she plans to pursue graduate school and study computer engineering.

The 2019 scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students chosen based on their academic achievement, campus and civic involvement and entrepreneurial ethos or “go-getter” spirit. In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and institutional achievement, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success.

“We’re looking forward to working with and learning from with this new cohort of HBCU Competitiveness Scholars,” said Elyse Jones, the Initiative’s Coordinator for the Scholars Program. “We have lots of unique, fun and interactive opportunities planned for this year that will provide new opportunities for these representatives, exposing them to critical national conversations and powerful thought leaders.”

Competitiveness Scholars will assemble during the 2019 National HBCU Week Conference, September 8-11 at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel – the theme of which is Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement. Quality Partnerships. Institutional Performance. (I like the periods vs. commas – let me know your thoughts). They will participate in workshops designed to strengthen their leadership, wealth creation and management and civic engagement and will be encouraged to seek out ongoing personal and professional development in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Competitiveness Scholars will receive their recognition at the HBCU week conference during the Initiative’s Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards luncheon ceremony on September 9.

Charles King Named Vice President for Institutional Advancement of Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College has appointed Charles King  as vice president for institutional advancement. In this role, he will lead all fund development activities and oversee public relations and marketing, special events and alumni relations.

Charles King

King has over ten years of higher education fundraising experience gained from posts at Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University Foundation and Langston University. Most recently, he served as senior major gifts officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

A native of Blytheville, Ark., King earned a bachelor of science in psychology from Arkansas State University in addition to a professional fundraising certificate from The Fundraising School at Indiana University. 

Dr. Jesse Hargrove honored as 2019 Exemplary Teacher of the Year

At the start of each academic year, Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, who are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, are asked by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to nominate an exemplary teacher of the year. On Saturday, May 4, 2019 during our 131 Commencement services this award was given to Dr. Jesse Hargrove, Associate Professor of Spanish and Art in the Division of Arts and Humanities at Philander Smith College.

Dr. Jesse Hargrove (center) is honored.

The recipient of the Exemplary Teacher Award demonstrates excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value-centered education; and service to the students, the institution, and the community.

The College was thrilled to recognize Dr. Hargrove for being a highly dedicated and effective educator. He regularly contributes his time and talent to serve students, faculty and staff at the College. From narrating the Civil Rights Bus Tour in Little Rock to being appointed by the Governor of Arkansas to serve on the Black History Commission, Dr. Hargrove’s vast knowledge of history and culture engages students inside and outside of the classroom.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® Presents Philander Smith College with First Installment of $100,000 Endowment

Over $1.6 Million Distributed to HBCUs During Black History Month

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA), in partnership with the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF), has pledged an endowment in the amount of $100,000 to Philander Smith College as a part of the organization’s AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund.

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 On February 28, 2019, Philander Smith College president, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.,  joined 31 other presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the Alpha Kappa Alpha International Headquarters in Chicago to accept the first installment of their institution’s award.  

 “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has implemented the AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund with the goal of investing in the future of our young people and the sustainability of our treasured HBCUs,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. International President, Dr. Glenda Glover. “Our organization has pledged to donate a total of $10 million dollars towards the endowment, and we are honored to provide Philander Smith College the first $50,000 during our February event as we celebrate Black History Month and the legacies of all HBCUs.”

 “Philander Smith College is immensely grateful to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for its strong display of commitment to the future of HBCUs through its AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund. Moreover, our gratitude is heightened even further that Philander Smith is a beneficiary of this extraordinary investment,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr.

 The historic event gathered presidents from HBCUs across the nation and featured remarks from Dr. Glenda Glover as well as a tour of the iconic and recently renovated Ivy Center International Headquarters in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

“This endowment will aid our scholars who face financial challenges as they strive to complete their education. So it is especially poignant to conclude Black History Month by attending the HBCU President’s Reception to receive the first installment of this generously charitable act,” President Smothers remarked.