Simmons College of Kentucky

Simmons College of Kentucky
Motto A Rendezvous with Greatness
Type Private, HBCU
Established 1879
President Dr. Kevin W. Cosby
Location Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Colors Simmons Red, Gold and Black

Simmons College of Kentucky, is a private, co-educational college located in Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 1879, Simmons College is a historically black college. The school is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and also plans to apply for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).



In August 1865, 12 Black Baptist churches met at Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville and organized the state Convention of Colored Baptist Churches in Kentucky, led by the pastor Henry Adams.[1]

Because there was no place in the state where Blacks could obtain a college education, members of the Convention soon began discussing the need to create a school for the training of Negroes – many of whom were one generation removed from slavery. Having first given consideration to Frankfort as the home to the school, members of the Convention instead decided in 1869 to locate what would be known as the Kentucky Normal Theological Institute in Louisville.[2]

It was not until 10 years later in 1879, however, that any definite steps were taken for the opening of the school. In November of that year the trustees of the Convention of Colored Baptist Church in Kentucky purchased 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land on the corner of 7th & Kentucky Street in Louisville that immediately served as the campus for the school.


Rev. Dr. William J. Simmons
Photo of the 1922 Simmons College Band

That same year, the school opened its doors under the direction of its first President Rev. Elijah P. Marrs. After a brief one-year tenure, Rev. Marrs was succeeded by Dr. William J. Simmons. Simmons was an ex-slave who had greatly developed Howard University's teacher training programs. It was under the leadership of Dr. Simmons that the school would begin to flourish in such a way that it would eventually be renamed "Simmons University" in appreciation for his contributions. By 1893 the school had 159 students, and by 1900 it was offering professional degrees in nursing and law in cooperation with the University of Louisville.

During his 10-year tenure, which stretched from 1880–1890, the school became a full university and expanded its offerings to include liberal arts, college preparatory courses and medical, law, business, music, and theological departments. Additionally, the school was the home to competitive football, basketball, and baseball teams.

Simmons University continued to grow and prosper. In 1894, Simmons was succeeded by Charles L. Purce,[3] who was president until his death in 1905.[4] In 1918, Charles Parish became President of the school, now called State University, and improved the school's endowment and academic offerings. In 1930, the school became Louisville Municipal College, a colored branch of the University of Louisville.


The effects of the Great Depression found its way to the school. In 1930, the campus was forced to sell its property due to a foreclosure on the mortgage. As a result, the school significantly scaled back its offerings. Additionally, in 1950 the University of Louisville desegregated, making the LMC campus obsolete; most of its faculty were forced to find jobs at other universities. One member, Charles Parrish, Jr, joined the Department of Sociology, becoming the University of Louisville's first African-American faculty member. Today there is a park on the campus named for him. Parrish is also known for attending the Highlander School (a school of peace) with Rosa Parks, the woman who started the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

In 1935, however, a new location for the school had been secured in west Louisville that allowed the school to continue with a more narrowed mission to simply educate young men and women for Christian service. Eventually in 1982 the school was renamed Simmons Bible College to more adequately reflect its mission.


In 2005, Dr. Kevin W. Cosby became the 13th President and subsequently changed the name of the school to Simmons College of Kentucky to reflect the school's mission to prepare Christians for ministry, while reinstating its initial mission of general education. In 2006, the school bought and moved back to the original campus.[5]


Simmons College of Kentucky has developed four distinct educational programs, plus a commitment to a fifth program objective, with a focus on an academic, research-based, faith-based approach to community involvement, interaction, and development.

Non-degree programs

The non-degree programs are designed to provide prospective students with essential Christian training at the college level particularly those students who do not qualify for admission to a degree program. The Certificate program is a 31-credit-hour course of study. The Diploma in Christian Ministry program is a 60-credit-hour course of study and provides the student with a more comprehensive Liberal Arts and Christian Studies curriculum. The Diploma program is designed to be completed in two years.

Degree programs
Simmons offers bachelor's degrees in the following areas: Business Administration, Cross-Cultural Communication, Religious Studies and Sociology. Simmons also offers associate degrees in General Studies and Religious Studies.[6]

The degree programs provide both academic and practical experiential training in Biblical, Theological, and Ministerial studies, in addition to a wide range of ministry areas. The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies is a four-year degree program which incorporates both Liberal Arts and Christian Studies into its 120-hour educational program.

The Bachelor of Theology program is designed for students who desire study in the area of Theology and Biblical studies beyond the Bachelor of Arts program. A written thesis is required for the completion of this program.

Certificate program
Simmons College of Kentucky offers a one-year program of 31 credit hours leading towards a certificate in Christian Ministry. The program is designed for persons who desire Christian training in order to more effectively serve in Christian ministry, but who either do not meet the academic requirements for admission to the Bachelor of Arts degree program or desire a shorter program or study.

Students in the Certificate program will attend the same classes and do the same class work as the degree students. Should the student meet the necessary academic requirements and desire to be admitted to the Bachelor of Arts degree program only course work in the Certificate program in which the student earned a letter grade "C" or above will be applied to the degree program.

Community involvement

Simmons Community Solutions
A significant component of the institutional strategic plan is Simmons Community Solutions (SCS), a comprehensive community development program. The target population for SCS is not only just the current student body, but also the entire Louisville Metro community in general, and Western Louisville in specific.

Notable people


Simmons College of Kentucky currently has men's[7] and women's basketball teams. The 2006-2007 season was the first time since 1930 that the school sponsored an athletic program.

See also


  1. "Simmons history". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 24, 2006.
  2. Elisha Winfield Green (1888). Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green. Republican Print. Office.
  3. Richings, G. F. Evidences of progress among colored people. GF Ferguson, 1903. pp. 57–59
  4. Chase, Beatriz L. Paragraphic News, Washington Bee (Washington, DC), September 9, 1905, Volume: XXV Issue: 15 Page: 1
  5. "Simmons going back to school's roots". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved July 5, 2006.
  6. "Degree Programs". Simmons College of Kentucky. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  7. "Simmons hopes new men's team is a slam dunk". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved October 18, 2006.

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