November 2: Storied HBCU Benedict College Established on This Day in 1870

0 Posted by - November 2, 2021 - Looking Black On Today, On This Date

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: ABC Columbia

Benedict College, situated in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, is a coeducational, private four-year liberal arts institution affiliated alongside American Baptist Churches in the United States of America.

Benedict College was conceptualized in 1870, by Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict and the Baptist Home Mission. Its long-term goal was to educate emancipated African Americans and produce persons who have “powers for good in society.”  Originally called the Benedict Institute, the HBCU rebranded itself Benedict College after its formal foundation on November 2, 1894. This was following the issuance of a charter by the South Carolina legislature.

From 1870 through 1930, Benedict was administered by northern white Baptist ministers, but Reverend John J. Starks became the college’s preeminent African American president in April 1930. Starks earned a bachelor’s degree and graduated from Benedict College in 1891.

Benedict College ranks among the United Negro College Fund’s 39 institutions, which are rapidly expanding. With 2,770 undergraduate students, Benedict has the highest undergraduate enrolment amongst the commonwealth’s 20 autonomous colleges, and the second-biggest overall enrollment.

Two times, Money magazine named Benedict as among one of the best of seven historically black collegiate-level institutions (HBCUs) in the US that provide the best value in American education. Benedict College was also recognized by the Knight Foundation for its “commitment to high standards of quality in education,” as well as its “distinguished record of providing educational opportunities to African-American students.”

Today, Benedict College offers programs in economics, governance, public welfare, and the medical field. Curriculums in education for public and private schools are also available. Additionally, study majors in political, artistic, theological, and technical disciplines are other academic choices.  According to a recent study conducted by the American Institute of Physics, Benedict is second in the US in terms of producing African American physics majors.

During the 2008-2009 academic year, 97 percent of Benedict’s 2,700 students enrolled to take the max in per-semester college credits. Fifty-five percent were called South Carolina their home state and 69% lived within the school grounds. Less than five percent lived of the student population were not from the United States. A recent census indicated a near-perfect gender balance on campus.

Throughout that scholastic year, Benedict maintained a total of 158 faculty members, 121 of them were full-time academics.

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