Comedian, Actor & PSC Alumnus Deon Cole to Keynote Philander Smith’s 2023 Commencement Ceremony


Courtesy of Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College will hold its 135th Commencement Ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 6 in the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Comedian, actor, writer and producer Deon Cole will deliver the keynote address.  An alumnus of Philander Smith College, the Black-ish star is a three-time NAACP Image Award winner for his work on the hit ABC sitcom. Currently, he can be seen in his latest NAACP-nominated, one-hour Netflix special, Charleen’s Boy.

The Illinois native recently wrapped the role of ‘Alfonso’ in the star-studded cast of the musical movie adaptation of The Color Purple and it was recently announced that the Emmy-nominated writer will star in the title role of the BET+ drama series “AVERAGE JOE” set to premiere in June.

Aside from being the featured speaker, Philander Smith College will award Cole an honorary degree. He will join Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed, former president of Philander Smith College (1998-2004) and president emerita of Bethune-Cookman University, in receiving the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree. Additionally, the College will bestow upon Terrell Jermaine Starr, a 2002 PSC graduate, the Ozell Sutton Medal of Service for his commitment to the field of journalism writing about geopolitical issues and race in America.

Now in its 146th year, Philander Smith College will confer nearly 200 degrees during its commencement exercises, continuing a trend of a record number of graduates and class valedictorians.