Louisville’s historic Simmons College of Kentucky is expected to soon be accredited for the first time by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. This comes in the middle of a renaissance for the historically African American school over the past several years.
Simmons’ history in Louisville is rich. It was founded in the 19th century by former slaves at Seventh and Kentucky streets. The school barely made it out of the Great Depression, and was hit hard again during the Civil Rights movement.
Then in 2007, under president Dr. Kevin Cosby, the school started to remake itself. Vice president Marland Cole says it’s hoped the accreditation will attract more students than the current enrollment of about 130.
“As you’re recruiting students you want them to be comfortable that when they leave your institution they’re getting a degree by an accredited body. That’s important for students. If they choose to move onto masters degree programs or transfer schools other schools look at that and so that’s important for our student body,” she says.
Cole says a partnership formed with the University of Louisville in 2010 has made it easier to transfer credits between the schools. Some U of L professors even teach on Simmons campus further strengthening the pair’s relationship, which began in 1930 when U of L bought Simmons’ campus and established Louisville Municipal College for the Colored.
That school was eventually closed in 1951 when U of L integrated, causing some students that attended Simmons’ new location on 18th and Dumesnil streets to transfer to U of L.
Simmons campus eventually moved back to its original location under Cosby’s leadership and has since been trying to reinvent itself.
Cole says she expects that to continue as Simmons is in the process of adding four more degrees (currently, it offers three) that the school hopes will extend beyond its traditional bible studies.
Simmons became a candidate for accreditation in 2010. School leaders expect an official accreditation announcement at the association’s conference on Feb. 19 and will likely make a formal announcement on Feb. 24, says Cole. She adds Congressman John Yarmuth and Senator Rand Paul are expected to attend that event.
Simmons already has accreditation by the Council on Postsecondary Education and is working with the agency to develop the new degrees.