Last Tuesday, Philander Smith officials announced the school’s transition into a university.

According to college officials, the transition signals Philander Smith’s “continued commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and meeting the evolving needs of its students and the community.”

“Philander Smith University. That one word. That one word means that we’re moving forward. It means that we’re offering a different level of excellence,” Philander Smith University interim president Cynthia A. Bond Hopson. “Whether it’s a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree. A certificate. We’re going to make the world a degree better.”

University leaders say the move will allow the school to expand its academic and research offerings and continue to serve the central Arkansas region as a pillar of higher education.

Hopson said the new status would help the university grow academically and enhance research opportunities. “We are absolutely ready to move forward and conquer the rest of the world,” she said.

The school was founded in 1877, making it one of the oldest private, historically Black higher ed institutions in Arkansas.