Benedict College
Former names
Benedict Institute
MottoA Power for Good in Society
TypePrivate historically black college
EstablishedDecember 12, 1870; 153 years ago (1870-12-12)
Religious affiliation
American Baptist Churches USA
Endowment$26.5 million (2021)[1]
PresidentRoslyn Clark Artis
Students1,840 (fall 2022)
South Carolina
United States
Campus110-acre (45 ha)
ColorsPurple and gold
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II - SIAC
Benedict College Historic District
original Benedict College building as seen in 1875
Benedict College is located in South Carolina
Benedict College
Benedict College is located in the United States
Benedict College
LocationRoughly bounded by Laurel, Oak, Taylor and Harden Sts. on Benedict College campus, Columbia, South Carolina
Area3.9 acres (1.6 ha)
ArchitectUrquhart, James B.
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference No.87000809[2]
Added to NRHPApril 20, 1987

Benedict College is a private historically black college in Columbia, South Carolina, United States. Founded in 1870 by northern Baptists, it was originally a teachers' college. It has since expanded to offer majors in many disciplines across the liberal arts. The campus includes buildings in the Benedict College Historic District, a historic area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Benedict College was founded in 1870 on land of a former 110-acre (45 ha) plantation in Columbia, South Carolina. Representing the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Bathsheba A. Benedict of Pawtucket, Rhode Island had provided $13,000 to purchase the property. This was one of numerous educational institutions founded in the South for formerly enslaved people by northern religious mission societies, as education was seen as key to the future for African Americans.


Benedict Institute opened on December 12, 1870.[3]

Benedict's first class consisted of ten freedmen; the teacher was the Reverend Timothy Dodge. He was a college-educated preacher from the North, who was also appointed as president of the institute. Classes were first held in the "Big House" of the plantation, which had been built in 1839 and deteriorated during the war. The institute's mission was prepare men and women to be "powers for good in society." Because enslaved people had been prohibited from learning to read or write, initially classes were held at the grammar school level in reading, writing, and math; other subjects included Bible and theology. Eventually, other subjects were added to the curriculum to address the original objective of the school: to train teachers and preachers.

On November 2, 1894, the institution was chartered as a four-year liberal arts college by the South Carolina legislature and its name was changed to Benedict College. In addition to funding from Baptist donors, the school received grants from the Slater Fund.[4]

From 1870 to 1930, Benedict College was led by a succession of seven northern white Baptist ministers, all college-educated. On April 10, 1930, the Reverend John J. Starks, who earned his bachelor's degree from the college in 1891, became the first African-American president of the college. Five African-American presidents have succeeded him.

Late 20th century to present

In 1994, with a strategic planning process in place, Benedict College set an enrollment goal of "2000 by the year 2000". The goal was achieved in 1996 with an enrollment of 2,138 students. The fall 2002 enrollment was 3,000. Benedict College is engaged in an ongoing strategic planning process, which will guide the college in the 21st century.

The college is implementing a $50 million campus improvement plan, which includes land acquisition and the completion of a comprehensive athletics complex. Campus facilities improvements over the past nine years[when?] have included upgrade of residence halls by installation of air-conditioning, fire sprinkler systems, and security systems; completion of an activities field and community park; renovation of historic Antisdel Chapel, and Bacoats and Alumni halls, and restoration of historic Morgan, Pratt, and Starks halls, including the Student Leadership Development Center.

During this period, new construction has included three residence halls, a parking garage, a campus center/dining hall, an Administration Building, and a Business Development Center. Additionally, buildings were acquired to house a fitness center, and the Division of Community Development/Center for Excellence. Three apartment complexes have been purchased for student housing. As a part of the college's community development goal, it has renovated more than 50 rundown properties in the adjacent community in Columbia.

Benedict College Historic District

The Benedict College Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.[2] It encompasses five buildings constructed between 1895 and 1937: Morgan Hall (1895), Pratt Hall (1902), Duckett Hall (1925), Antisdel Chapel (1932), and Starks Center (1937).[5][6]


Benedict offers 29 degrees from 12 departments.[7][8]

In addition to offering traditional education, the college also offers continuing education for those "non-traditional students".


Benedict College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate degrees.

The Teacher Education Program is fully approved by the South Carolina Department of Education and the Program in Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The Environmental Health Science Program is fully accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC).

Marching Tigers "Band of Distinction"

Benedict's Marching Tigers "Band of Distinction" was founded in the 1960s under the direction of Roy McCollough. The band performs at most football games, home basketball games, and several special events throughout the year. Mr. Herman Jones led the Benedict College Marching Band of Distinction and was credited with giving the band its unique sound. Before preparing to go on a sabbatical leave to study for his doctorate degree at Temple University, the late Mr. Jones recommend Mr. Johnson for the position.[9][10] The band is currently under the direction of Henry Wade Johnson.[11][12] In 2022, the band marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.[13]

Benedict College concert choir

The Benedict College choir hosts spirituals, festivals and an annual Christmas concert. Linda Kersaw, one of five Richland One alumni inducted into the district's Hall of Fame, led the choir for over 20 years.[14][15][16][citation needed]


Benedict athletic teams are the Tigers. The college is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) since the 1932–33 academic year. The Tigers previously competed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1988–89 to 2001–02 (hence it held dual membership with both the NAIA and the NCAA).

Benedict competes in 14 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, tennis, track & field and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.


The college has built the Charlie W. Johnson Stadium for its football games on-campus, which opened in 2006. Basketball games are played at HRC Arena.


The Benedict Tigers tennis team won the SIAC conference championship in 2015.

In 2022, the Tigers football team put together their best season in school history, winning the SIAC championship and qualifying for the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time. In addition, Benedict also claimed the black college national championship for schools competing below the NCAA Division I level.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Chino Smith Negro league baseball player who held a career batting average of .428 in six seasons.
Modjeska Monteith Simkins 1921 leader of African American public health reform, social reform and the civil rights movement in South Carolina [17]
Harold A. Stevens 1930 lawyer and former judge who served on the New York Court of General Sessions and New York Court of Appeals [18]
Jack B. Johnson 1970 former County Executive for Prince George's County, Maryland
LeRoy T. Walker former U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman
Waliyy Dixon Professional streetball player
Kris Bruton Basketball player who currently plays with the Harlem Globetrotters
Bennie Lewis 2009 Professional basketball player
James Maxie Ponder First African American physician in St. Petersburg, Florida [19]
Charles L. Purce 1879 President of Selma University and Simmons College of Kentucky
Mary Rice Phelps 1885 Teacher and writer [20]
Sanco Rembert 1945 Anglican bishop and first black bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church
Walt Simon 1961 Pro Basketball player, Senior VP Kentucky Fried Chicken.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System – (#87000809)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Betsey, Charles L. (2008). "Grading for effort: the success equals effort policy at Benedict College". Historically Black Colleges and Universities. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. pp. 149‒164. ISBN 9781412812191. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Proceedings of the John F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen (1883) accessible on Google Books
  5. ^ J. Tracy Power (February 1987). "Benedict College Historic District" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  6. ^ "Benedict College Historic District, Richland County (Columbia)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved January 7, 2014. and accompanying map Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Degree Programs and Majors". Archived from the original on June 29, 2005.
  8. ^ "Academics". Benedict College. Archived from the original on September 1, 2005.
  9. ^ "Benedict College loses long-time band director". Carolina Panorama Newspaper. June 2, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  10. ^ "In Memoriam: Herman Jones Jr., 1962-2016". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. June 14, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  11. ^ "Band Membership Requirements - Benedict College". Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  12. ^ "2018 Honda Battle of the Bands - Benedict College The Marching Tiger Band of Distinction".
  13. ^ "Benedict College set to make history at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade".
  14. ^ Times, Free (April 23, 2013). "Benedict Ensemble Excels at Festival of Choirs". Post and Courier. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  15. ^ "Richland One Hall of Fame adds five graduates". November 3, 2006. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  16. ^ "Black History Month: Honoring the Songs of Slaves". February 1, 2005. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  17. ^ "Modjeska Simkins - Notable Black South Carolinans". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  18. ^ Navarro, Mireya (November 11, 1990). "Judge Harold Stevens First Black on Court of Appeals". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  19. ^ Arsenault, Kathy (September 17, 2001). "The Ernest Ayer Ponder Collection" (PDF). University of South Florida St. Petersburg: Digital Archive. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  20. ^ Haley, James T. (May 1, 2012). Afro-American Encyclopaedia; Or, the Thoughts, Doings, and Sayings of the Race... CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 113. ISBN 978-1477421130. Retrieved September 18, 2019 – via HathiTrust Digital Library.

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