A Brief History of Benedict College
Benedict College, originally Benedict Institute, was founded in 1870 under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. As Benedict’s first philanthropist, Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, provided $13,000 towards the purchase of an 80-acre plantation near Columbia, South Carolina as the site for a new school for the recently freed people of African descent. Benedict Institute, operating in a former slave master’s mansion, was established, in the words of its founder to prepare men and women to be a “power for good in society.”
During the first quarter century of its existence, Benedict Institute directed its educational programs to the severely limited economic and social conditions of the black population in the South. The Institute’s original objective was to educate and train teachers and preachers, therefore, Benedict’s first curriculum included reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, and religion. Later, the curriculum was expanded to include traditional college disciplines, which also included an industrial department offering carpentry, shoemaking, printing, and painting.
On November 2, 1894, the South Carolina Legislature chartered the institution as a liberal arts college and the name “Benedict Institute” was formally changed to “Benedict College.”
From its founding, Benedict College was led by a succession of northern white Baptist ministers and educators. However, the year 1930 signaled the succession of African-American male presidents that continued until June 30, 2017, when Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis was unanimously appointed by the Benedict College Board of Trustees as the 14th President of Benedict College. She is the fourteenth and first-female President in the 148-year history of the college.
Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility, producing cutting-edge scholarship, and research.
Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution with 2,100 students enrolled in its 34 baccalaureate degree programs during the 2017-2018 academic year.
Benedict offers several high-demand fields of study in STEM, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Education. Benedict has a diverse faculty of which 80 percent are full-time, and 60 percent hold doctorates or the equivalent.
The College made front-page news in the spring of 2018 when it became the first South Carolina college to lower its tuition by 26 percent. Cutting tuition drew praise from the Commission on Higher Education, South Carolina’s education oversight body. The commissioner noted the move that Benedict College has made should be applauded because it offers students more access to higher education and affordability.
Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia, 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Benedict College. Five of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work, Environmental Health Science, Art, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Economics.