Simmons’ President Kevin Cosby announced the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two Louisville schools at a news conference April 27.

The agreement calls for UofL to work with Simmons to align the schools’ general education requirements and eventually allow credit hour exchanges and dual degrees. Kentucky’s new transfer legislation also will make it easier for Simmons’ students to transfer all of their credits toward a four-year degree at UofL.

Simmons is a 131-year-old historically black institution whose current campus building was sold to UofL in 1930 and became Louisville Municipal College. Cosby envisioned reopening Simmons College and acquired the original property at 7th and Kentucky streets in 2005. Simmons is now a Bible-based college with an urban mission and about 300 students.

Cosby said Tuesday that Simmons will act as a defacto junior college for students who thought a higher education was no more than a pipe dream.

He said the agreement with UofL will open doors to a four-year degree and a standard of living that many children from west Louisville never thought possible.

The MOU will further UofL’s reach into the black community and allow an expansion of its Signature Partnership, said UofL Provost Shirley Willihnganz, at the news conference. Willihnganz said UofL students also can benefit from some of the specialty programs at Simmons.

While there currently are no formal, signed agreements on how dual credit or degree programs would work, she said, officials from the two schools have pledged to work on those over the summer and hope to have them in place for the fall 2010 semester. 

Cosby and UofL President James Ramsey formally signed the MOU on Saturday, April 24. Ramsey was out of town Tuesday but said in a statement that this historic agreement is further proof of UofL’s commitment to providing an affordable education to all who seek to better their lives. It’s also a testament to Rev. Cosby’s persistence in seeking partnerships and opportunities for those who are less fortunate.

Cosby is pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church and is a member of the UofL Board of Trustees.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear theorized at the news conference that there may have been some divine intervention in his appointment of Cosby to UofL’s board. He said he believes the appointment helped forge Cosby’s relationship with UofL administrators, an agreement between his school and UofL and great potential for future students.