Notable Alphas

Walter M. Kimbrough


Dr Walter M Kimbrough is the 12th president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas As the first college president from the hip-hop generation, he is one of the youngest college presidents in the nation Prior to Philander Smith College, he served in administrative capacities at Albany State University, Old Dominion University, Georgia State University and Emory University After graduating from the Benjamin E Mays High School and Academy of Math and Science in Atlanta as the Salutatorian and Student Body President, Dr Kimbrough earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Degree in biology from the University of Georgia  He continued his education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, completing a Master of Science Degree in College Student Personnel Services, and he earned the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Higher Education from Georgia State University Based on a strong fraternity experience, Dr Kimbrough has forged a national reputation as an expert on historically Black fraternities and sororities.

He has conducted interviews with national publications including The Washington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as a guest on the National Public Radio show, “Talk of the Nation”  He is the author of the book, “Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities” An Essence Magazine top 10 best seller, it is currently in its eleventh printing Locally, he is a member of the board of directors for the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Heart of Arkansas United Way He was named one of the people who made a difference in Arkansas in 2005 by the Arkansas Times newspaper, and named by Powerplay Magazine in 2006 as one of the 25 influential African Americans in Arkansas In 2009 he was named as one of the 25 to watch by Diverse Issues in Higher Education Dr Kimbrough and his wife Adria Nobles Kimbrough, associate general counsel with the University of Arkansas System, are the proud parents of two children: Lydia Nicole, 4, and Benjamin Barack, 1 For seven years Kimbrough, 44, has been president of Philander Smith College, a historically black Methodist college in Little Rock, Ark, dedicated to social justice.

There he launched campaigns to improve graduation rates, mentor black males and educate students on the hazards of sexual promiscuity He also launched a provocative lecture series drawing speakers from all points of the political spectrum, from Cornel West, the philosopher and civil rights activist, to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin Philander Smith's website and Arkansas media sometimes refer to Kimbrough as the "hip-hop president," not only for his appreciation of hip-hop, but his broader ability to relate to students He is comfortable with social media and goes by the Twitter username "@HipHopPrez" He has also been a public advocate for the continuing role of historically black colleges and universities, while acknowledging their problems and need for accountability Kimbrough was on Dillard's Gentilly campus Tuesday morning, where he met with students after the formal announcement of his appointment He later left to return to Little Rock and was not immediately available for comment Next summer, Kimbrough will take over a campus that was nearly demolished by Katrina Repairs and new construction have mitigated most of the estimated $400 million in damage Its enrollment has slowly recovered each year since the storm, but is still 40 percent lower than in 2005.

Kimbrough's predecessor, Hughes, resigned in February, saying "My job is done" A trustee, James Lyons, has functioned as interim president since July 1 Like Philander Smith, Dillard is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, although unlike the Arkansas college, with the United Church of Christ as well Philander Smith is smaller, educating about 750 students in four degree programs, compared to Dillard's 1,250 in 22 academic majors across seven departments and schools A preacher's son from Atlanta, Kimbrough is a formally trained educator, with a doctorate in higher education from Georgia State University He was vice president for student affairs at Albany State University in Albany, Ga, before taking the presidency at Philander Smith His wife, Adria, is associate general counsel with the University of Arkansas system They have two children At the Little Rock college, Kimbrough created a notable speaker series and a program called the Black Male Initiative dedicated to mentoring young men.

He was not afraid of risking occasional controversy, as when the program earlier this year invited Detroit ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to speak about his fall from power and imprisonment "Our motto is 'Think Justice', and we want our students to learn how someone like Kwame Kilpatrick has fallen from grace and into the justice system, rebounds and publicly faces life's challenges Our students read about him and want to learn from his mistakes as well as their own," said Michael Hutchinson, an aide to Kimbrough and the program's director Kimbrough has been a contender for other promotions He was one of five finalists for the presidency of Southern University before he withdrew in April Dillard trustee Joyce Roché said the board was drawn to Kimbrough's dynamism and impressed by his impact on Philander Smith during his seven years there She said Kimbrough boosted the college's general profile in Little Rock, but more important, increased the retention rate for freshmen from 51 percent to 77 percent She also said he increased the graduation rate by approximately 20 percentage points Moreover, Kimbrough has a reputation for being "student-centered," she said He is thoroughly modern in ways: He maintains a personal blog on the Philander Smith website, and has written widely on the role of fraternities and sororities on campus, particularly for minority students.

Yet at the same time, Roché said, the trustees believed Kimbrough was a traditionalist at heart Appalled by a public health report that chronicled high rates of sexually transmitted disease and out-of-wedlock births to African-Americans, Kimbrough attracted some national attention at Philander Smith by launching "Sex Week," a week of programming featuring frank talk about sexuality "Everyone says we just sort of accept these as normal now," he told National Public Radio in an interview earlier this year "Well, that shouldn't be normal So, how do we start to have proactive conversations with young people on the campus that they can be empowered to address these issues in their communities? So, we want to have that conversation" "Someone called him an old soul with a new image," Roché said of Kimbrough "All those things said to us, he's the right guy".


2013 Stetson Values Day Keynote
Date:  Friday, September 20, 2013
Title:  2013 Stetson Values Day Keynote
Description:  Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D., president of Dillard University, presented the keynote address during Stetson University Values Day, Sept. 18, 2013. Learn more a...
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2014 HBCU Awards
Date:  Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Title:  2014 HBCU Awards
Description:  The HBCU Awards acknowledges and celebrates achievement at historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States. Listen to what Dr. Walt...
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Multicultural Greek 101
Date:  Monday, March 29, 2010
Title:  Multicultural Greek 101
Description:  On Wednesday, April 7, 2010, the Sigma Alpha Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, in collaboration with the Alpha Beta Chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta Frater...
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