Dr. Walter Kimbrough

Dr. Walter Kimbrough helps students to understand complex cultural issues using history as a guide. He provides space for difficult conversations, so that students can live more authentically in their community.


  • Black History
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • First-Year Experience/Orientation
  • First Generation College Student
  • Fraternity/Sorority Life
  • Hazing Prevention
  • Leadership Development
  • Personal Growth


Getting to know

Dr. Walter Kimbrough

Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s career was built in student affairs, and he has been recognized for his research and writings on HBCUs and African American men in college. A proud native of Atlanta and was his high school’s salutatorian and student body president in 1985. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, his master’s from Miami University in Ohio, and his Ph.D. in higher education from Georgia State University. At the age of 32, he served as the vice president for student affairs at Albany State University. Prior to that, he served at Emory University, Georgia State University, and Old Dominion University. Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s path led him to Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas where, at 37-years-old, he was named the college’s 12th president. Most recently, Dr. Kimbrough concluded his 10 year tenure servigin as the 7th president of Dillard University.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough has leveraged his influence to be a voice in the community. In 2014, in the wake of the Michael Brown killing, Dillard hosted a Black Male Summit. In 2016, he advocated for Andrew Jones, the Amite High School valedictorian who was denied participation in graduation due to a facial hair policy. In 2018, the University hosted a convening for Louisiana’s HBCUs, the White House Initiative on HBCUs, UNCF, and several of the state’s major economic organizations to identify ways for HBCUs to more actively engage in economic development. In 2020, Dr. Walter Kimbrough advocated for Ka’Mauri Harrison, a then-fourth-grade student suspended for having a BB gun in view during a distance class from his bedroom. He has also emerged as one of the leaders discussing free speech on college campuses.

Known by the moniker, “The Hip Hop Prez,” Dr. Walter Kimbrough is widely recognized for his adroit use of social media. He was cited in 2010 by BachelorsDegree.org as one of 25 college presidents you should follow on Twitter. In 2013, he was also cited by Education Dive as one of “10 college presidents on Twitter who are doing it right,” and he was named to Josie Ahlquist’s “25 Higher Education Presidents to Follow on Twitter.” Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s use of social media has been noted in articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education and in Dan Zaiontz’s book “#FollowTheLeader: Lessons in Social Media Success from #HigherEd CEOs.” He also captured national attention in 2021 when journalist Malcolm Gladwell interviewed him and featured Dillard on his highly regarded “Revisionist History” podcast.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough’s leadership has been recognized frequently. In 2010, he made the coveted Ebony Magazine Power 100 list of the doers and influencers in the African American community. In 2013, he was named to The Grio 100: History Makers in the Making. The following year, he was named HBCU Male President of the Year by HBCU Digest, and he was named by TheBestSchools.org as one of the “20 Most Interesting College Presidents” in 2016. The HBCU Campaign Fund named him one of the “10 Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2018” and College Cliffs named President Kimbrough one of their “50 Top U.S. College and University Presidents” in 2020. In 2021, Dr. Walter Kimbrough was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, Georgia State.

A 1986 initiate of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at the University of Georgia, Dr. Walter Kimbrough has leveraged his fraternity experiences and his student affairs research to become one of the country’s experts in Greek life. He was the Alpha Phi Alpha College Brother of the Year for the Southern Region and served as the Southern Region assistant vice president. He has forged a national reputation as an expert on fraternities and sororities with specific expertise regarding historically Black, Latin and Asian groups. He is the author of the book “Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities” and has served as an expert witness in a number of hazing cases. Because of his work, Dr. Walter Kimbrough received the Association of Fraternity Advisors’ New Professional of the Year Award in 1994 and Kent Gardner Award in 2016.

After completing his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Walter Kimbrough went on to earn his master’s from Miami University in Ohio and his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Georgia State University. He and his wife, Adria Nobles Kimbrough, an attorney, are the proud parents of two children, Lydia Nicole, and Benjamin Barack.


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Link to Promotional Materials


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Walter Kimbrough

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Is A Beloved Community Impossible?

In recent years, we’ve seen concepts and ideas that many valued and embraced, become controversial and even toxic. Schools, organizations, and corporations which aspire to build the beloved communities that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned, now walk on eggshells. What words can we say? What concepts can we explore? What topics are now offensive?

In this presentation Dr. Walter Kimbrough will examine where Americans are in terms of building beloved communities, and despite the new climate, seek to identify new pathways to reach that goal. Participants will learn more about King’s idea of the beloved community and walkway with ideas for achieving that goal.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • how to develop a sense of the range of topics which have become controversial and why,
  • how to understanding of ideas related to beloved communities and the common good, and
  • how to present specific strategies to work toward building these communities in spite of the political environment.
Respect The Technique: Leadership Lessons From Hip-Hop

Officially middle-aged, turning fifty in 2023, hip hop has been one of the most consequential cultural developments in history. Impacting music, fashion, marketing, language, and even education, hip hop is part of our everyday experiences, even subtly. Yet hip hop offers lessons in leadership, from the political activism of Killer Mike to the business dealings of Jay-Z. This session shares how hip-hop has helped usher in new, practical ways to lead.

In this program, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, The HipHopPrez, shares how hip-hop has helped usher in new, practical ways to lead. Through this interactive program with music, Dr. Walter Kimbrough breaks down important lessons in leadership we have been listening to on the radio for years.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • leadership theories and frameworks,
  • how hip-hop had presented new ways to lead, and
  • how principles of leadership are reflected in music and video.
It’s Complicated: The Rhetoric and Reality of Greek Life

Using his background as a higher education professional, Dr. Walter Kimbrough takes the audience on a journey to look at the history of fraternalism in American higher education. From the ideas espoused by founders, to the training group for Civil Rights leaders, these organizations have played an important role in higher education. At the same time, they continue to battle self-inflicted wounds that damage their value, especially with cases of hazing, sexism and racism. The audience will be challenged with ways to make sure the rhetoric and the reality are congruent.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • understanding the development of fraternities and sororities in America,
  • examination of the major issues facing these groups
  • offer suggestions for addressing the challenges, and
  • presentation is modified to fit community, and can focus more heavily on certain issues (i.e. hazing).
Martin Luther King Day Is Cancelled

Every year college campuses host programs to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The activities range from lectures to parades, from oratorical competitions to awards banquets. Unfortunately, these events only superficially deal with the complex issues that King offered. The same speeches and the usual quotes are repeated so that often these events become routine performances without any transformative power. It has been forty years since President Reagan made King’s birthday a national holiday, but now is the time to end the celebration of the holiday and do the sacrificial work more representative of King’s life.

In this keynote, Walter Kimbrough shares examples of the variety of ideas shared by Dr. King and their relevance today, and if campus communities truly believe in King’s words and work, he will share some ideas of the kinds of sacrifices that may be required to meet today’s challenges.

Culture, Customs & Challenges

Dr. Walter Kimbrough analyzes the customs, culture, and challenges facing historically Black fraternal organizations. The keynote provides a history of Black Greek organizations beyond the nine major organizations, examining the pledging practice, the growth of fraternalism outside of the mainstream organizations, the vivid culture and practices of the groups, and challenges for the future.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • understanding the historical development of culturally based groups,
  • development of the cultural artifacts of these groups, including stepping, and
  • continued challenges the groups face related to new member selection and education,
I Respectfully Disagree: When Debate Dies Who Loses

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. As we looks at freedom of speech, in this keynote, Dr. Walter Kimbrough asks four core questions:

  • Who Decides which speech is unsuitable/permissible?
  • Do we obsess over speech but ignore acts?
  • Is there a value to hearing the other side?
  • Do we infantilize a college experience by arguing that some voices should not be allowed on campus?

Dr. Walter Kimbrough helps students navigate how to enter into a debate, respect speech, and talk across differences.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • providing the context for the current campus culture wars,
  • review of cases to understand the various positions, and
  • provide ideas for managing debate on campus.
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