Open main menu

Simmons College of Kentucky is a private historically black college in Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 1879, Simmons College of Kentucky is the nation's 107th historically black college. Simmons College of Kentucky is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education to grant certificates and degrees at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels.

Simmons College of Kentucky
Motto"Non Palma Sine Pulvere" (No Reward without Effort)
TypePrivate, HBCU
PresidentDr. Kevin W. Cosy
Location, ,
United States
ColorsSimmons Red, Gold and Black



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 for Blacks to 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 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 (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 1907, the school, now called State University entered into an affiliation agreement with the Louisville National Medical College to merge the two colleges.[5] In 1918, Charles Parish became President of the school 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 building on the campus, Parrish Hall, named after 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.[6]


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 include a certificate and a diploma in Christian Ministry Studies. Degree programs include the Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Arts, and Associate degree.[7]

Community involvementEdit

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.


Simmons College of Kentucky currently has men's[8] and women's basketball teams. The 2006–07 season was the first time since 1930 that the school sponsored an athletic program.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Simmons history". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. 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. ^ "Class of 1893". 1888-1907 Twentieth Announcement of Louisville National Medical College. Louisville, Kentucky: State University: 39. 1907. Retrieved 9 February 2017 – via University of Louisville Archives and Records Center.
  6. ^ "Simmons going back to school's roots". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved July 5, 2006.
  7. ^ "Degree Programs". Simmons College of Kentucky. Archived from the original on 2016-09-27. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "Simmons hopes new men's team is a slam dunk". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2006.
  9. ^ Lamb, Daniel Smith (1900). Howard University Medical Department: A Historical, Biographical and Statistical Souvenir. Washington, D. C.: College of Medicine Publications. p. 168. OCLC 894190846.

External linksEdit