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Philander Smith Formalizes Kimbrough as Leader


Walter Kimbrough doesn’t want to be an ordinary college president. Kimbrough, 38, was formally installed this weekend as leader of Philander Smith College in Little Rock.

Kimbrough has been serving in the position for nine months. But the weekend ceremony, which counted Kimbrough’s father among the speakers, installed the administrator as the chief of Arkansas’ oldest historically Black private college.

Kimbrough is often referred to as “the hip-hop president” for his frequent references to popular culture. He set a tone for an aggressive leadership.

“The first thing is we must overcome the cult of low expectations,” Kimbrough said. “We must set our expectations high.”

Kimbrough challenged alumni and the city of Little Rock to help the school enter a renaissance that he envisions. He said the school must have greater financial support, which could include a partnership with the state, he said.

Among prominent Philander Smith graduates are former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, former Little Rock Mayor Lottie Shackelford and Little Rock’s first Black city manager, Mahlon Martin. But Kimbrough said only 12 percent of donations in a recent fund drive came from Arkansas. He said Philander Smith can help keep bright students in Arkansas but needs a greater endowment.

Associated Press

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