March 3, 1881
The state chartered Philander Smith College as a four-year college. Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the first historically black four-year college in Arkansas and the first historically black college to be accredited by a regional accrediting institution. It remains the largest private historically black college in Arkansas. Notable graduates of Philander Smith include Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. surgeon general; Rev. James H. Cone, professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York; Lottie Shackelford, Little Rock’s first woman mayor; and professional athletes Elijah Pitts and Hubert “Geese” Ausbie. More than forty percent of Philander Smith’s students are first-generation college students.