Voorhees University
Former names
Denmark Industrial School for African Americans
Voorhees Industrial Institute for Colored Youths
Voorhees School and Junior College
Voorhees College
TypePrivate historically black university
EstablishedApril 14, 1897; 127 years ago (1897-04-14)
Religious affiliation
Episcopal Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$10 million (2021)[2]
PresidentRonnie Hopkins
Location, ,
United States

33°18′32.61″N 81°7′41.51″W / 33.3090583°N 81.1281972°W / 33.3090583; -81.1281972
ColorsRoyal Blue & White[3]
Sporting affiliations

Voorhees University (formerly Voorhees College) is a private historically black university in Denmark, South Carolina. It is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


On April 14, 1897, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright founded Denmark Industrial School for African Americans.[4][5] Located in a rural area and the small town of Denmark, it was modeled on the well-known Tuskegee Institute of Alabama. The first classes were held on the second floor of an old store.[6] Its first class was fourteen students, taught by two teachers.[6]

Voorhees Industrial School, c. 1910

In 1902, Ralph Voorhees, a philanthropist in Clinton, New Jersey, donated $5,000 (equivalent to $176,000 in 2023) to the school in order to purchase land and construct buildings.[7][8] The school used the donation to purchase 250 acres of land from Capt. J.B. Guess for $4,500 (equivalent to $158,000 in 2023) and to build a school building on the land.[7] The school moved to the new location in October 1902.[7]

In 1904, the South Carolina General Assembly renamed the school and incorporated it as the Voorhees Industrial Institute for Colored Youths.

In 1924, the school was affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. In 1947, its name was changed to Voorhees School and Junior College. In 1962, with the addition of departments and four-year curriculum, it became accredited as Voorhees College.[9]

In 1969, the school's predominantly Black student body demanded more Black study programs and the hiring of Black faculty, as well as outreach to assist the local lower income community of Denmark with scholarships. The Voorhees administration, made up of mostly whites, ignored the students' plea. A demonstration of 500 students began as a response, which eventually inspired 75 students to command a two-day armed student occupation of the college. The president of Voorhees agreed to the students' demands, but filed a formal request to the South Carolina National Guard to subdue the students. The protesters surrendered but were subsequently arrested.[10][11] Many were suspended.

In 2020, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $4 million to Voorhees College. Her donation is the largest single gift in Voorhees' history.[12]

The institution changed its name to Voorhees University in 2022 when it celebrated its 125th anniversary.[13]

Voorhees College Historic District

Main article: Voorhees College Historic District

This historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 1982. It includes thirteen contributing buildings constructed from 1905 to 1935. The historic district is noteworthy as an example of pioneering education for African Americans in the early 20th century, and for its association with co-founder Elizabeth Evelyn Wright. In addition, the buildings, constructed mostly by students, showed ambitious design and masonry techniques. Many of these buildings were constructed by the students of Voorhees College as part of their crafts program.[14] Photographs of some of the buildings are available.[15]


The Voorhees athletics teams are called the Tigers and Lady Tigers. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing as an NAIA Independent within the Continental Athletic Conference since the 2015–16 academic year; which they were a member on a previous stint from 2005–06 to 2012–13 as an Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII). The Tigers and Lady Tigers previously competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) from 2013–14 to 2014–15; and in the defunct Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) from 1983–84 to 2004–05.

Voorhees competes in ten intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country and track & field; women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, softball and track & field.

Student life

The university has cheerleaders, choir, band, Student Government Association, special interest groups, fraternities, and sororities on campus.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "NAICU – Member Directory". Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  2. ^ "Voorhees College | Data USA".
  3. ^ Institutional Governance & College Administration Policies (PDF). Vol. 1. May 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "The Tuskegee of South Carolina". Boston Evening Transcript. September 8, 1915. p. 28.
  5. ^ "Many Branches of Institute". The Montgomery Times. February 10, 1913. p. 5.
  6. ^ a b "Tour of the State". Evening Star. March 26, 1909. p. 17.
  7. ^ a b c "Denmark Doings". The Bamberg Herald. July 17, 1902. p. 3.
  8. ^ "The Voorhees Industrial School". Boston Evening Transcript. February 10, 1909. p. 7.
  9. ^ Edgar, Walter (2006). South Carolina Encyclopedia. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 999–1000. ISBN 1-57003-598-9.
  10. ^ "ABC Evening News with Howard K. Smith - April 29, 1969". ABC Evening News. American Broadcasting Corporation. April 29, 1969. Retrieved February 23, 2019.[dead link] Vanderbilt Television News Archive
  11. ^ "Campus Unrest / Voorhees / Arms | Vanderbilt Television News Archive". tvnews.vanderbilt.edu. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  12. ^ "Voorhees College".
  13. ^ Boyd, Tamia (February 22, 2022). "'We're like family': Voorhees College, a private historically Black institution in Denmark". The Greenville News. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  14. ^ "NRHP Nomination form" (PDF).
  15. ^ "South Carolina Department of Archives and History".
  16. ^ "Jackie Dinkins NBA statistics". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  17. ^ Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (March 1, 2004). African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-95628-8.