In 1879, four acres of land were purchased in Louisville by the Convention of Colored Baptist Churches in Kentucky for the purpose of housing the campus of the Kentucky Normal Theological Institute. The school was later renamed to honor its second president, W.J. Simmons, who served from 1880 to 1890.
The school fell on hard times during the Great Depression and refocused on training African Americans for the clergy. In 1982 it was renamed Simmons Bible College.
Now known as Simmons College of Kentucky, the school was recently accredited by the Association for Biblical Education. Since the educational institution was founded prior to 1965, its accreditation made it eligible for designation as a historically Black college. The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that Simmons College of Kentucky application for designation as an HBCU has been approved. This entitles the college to participate in federal funding program earmarked for HBCUs.
Simmons College of Kentucky now enrolls about 220 students. College officials hope to increase enrollments to 350 students this fall. Just in March of last year, Simmons received its accreditation — before receiving its HBCU recognition this week.
“It was an amazing moment for the community; a simple phone call completely changed the aura around here,” said Robert Harvey, COO Simmons College of Kentucky. Harvey is also a professor of religion at Simmons. He said the school received word on Monday that it is now officially an HBCU.
“The biggest benefit of being a historically black college and university recognized by the department of education is the pride factor that we are going to bring back to the west Louisville community.”
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