Historical Marker of the Visanska-Starks House: Home of Dr. John Jacob Starks (1876-1944), the first African-American president of Benedict College

A Benedict College Profile

Founded in 1870 by Rhode Island native Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict, Benedict College was an 80-acre plantation when purchased as the Benedict Institute. The investors’- Mrs. Benedict and the Baptist Home Mission long-term goal was to educate emancipated African Americans and produce citizens who were to be “powers for good in society.”

Over 148 years later, Benedict College has been one of the fastest growing of 37 United Negro College Fund Schools. Of the 20 independent colleges in South Carolina, Benedict has one of the largest undergraduate student body. The College has students enrolled from 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across the United States and 26 counties around the world. Nearly 2,100 students are currently studying at Benedict; the College is distinguished by its continued commitment to facilitate the empowerment, enhancement, and full-participation of African Americans in a global society.

The school’s growth is more than an expanding student enrollment. Benedict College has been involved in an ambitious building program. The beautiful park-like campus is located on the corners of Harden and Taylor Streets. The campus has undergone substantial renovations to its Antisdel Chapel, the Benjamin E. Mays Human Resource Center, Morgan Hall, Pratt Hall, and all of its dormitories.

But the school’s growth is not limited to its historic area. Benedict College has erected a multi-million dollar, 60-acre sports complex off of Two Notch Road in Columbia.. The heart of the complex is the11, 000 seats Charlie W. Johnson football stadium.

After a 30-year hiatus, football returned to Benedict College in 1995. And with football came its complement, the marching band. The Benedict College Marching Tiger Band of Distinction was recently selected as the opening performance at the 2017 Honda Battle of the Band in Atlanta, GA.  The move to bring back to football was a way for students to feel a community esprit de corps. The revival of the sport boost the spirit and pride of the Benedict College community.

The spirit and quality have attracted their share of additional success. The average SAT scores, Honors College enrollee rate, capital giving dollars and the number of research grants awarded to Benedict College have all increased. Also growing are the numbers of valedictorians and high achievers choosing the school as their first choice for higher education.

Students attending Benedict College have the opportunity to earn four-year, liberal arts degree from 33 different disciplines. including: accounting; biology; business administration-with a concentration in management and marketing; chemistry-with a concentration in radio chemistry;  child and family development; computer engineering; computer science; criminal justice; early childhood education, economics with a concentration on Finance; electrical engineering; elementary education,; English,; environmental engineering;  environmental health science; general business; history; interdisciplinary studies; mass communications; mathematics;  music  with a concentration on industry, instrumental, piano, and voice; physics; political science with a concentration on international relations; psychology;  public health; recreation and leisure services;  religion and philosophy, social work; sports management; sociology; studio art; teaching of art, and transportation and logistics engineering.

Receiving an academic education is only part of the Benedict College experience. Service to the community also defines its students. The Business Development Center was established in 2002 with the goal of encouraging small business ownership, and business improvement, particularly among African-American. There are currently XX small businesses grow in the incubator that is run by the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Economics.  

Benedict College has a long history of producing high achievers. Some notable alumni include: Maj. Gen. Matthew Zimmerman, Dr. LeRoy Walker, and president emeritus of the US Olympic Committee. Other distinguished graduates include: I.S. Leevy Johnson Esq., the first African American President of the SC Bar Association; Modjeska Simkins, often referred as the mother of the South Carolina Civil Rights Movement; and Maria Pyles, 1990 SC Teacher of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year finalist.

Benedict College has hosted several political and community leaders such as former President of the United States, Barack Obama; Former First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama; former Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton; Representative Maxine Waters, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Congressman James E. Clyburn, Former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th President of Liberia and the first female elected Head of State in Africa.

Local and national business have noticed the school’s progress. Benedict College enjoys healthy relationship with many of corporate partners who have supported our mission and hired our students. Benedict had placed students at the following companies:  BlueCross, BlueShield of Columbia, Bank of America, American Express, BMW, Capital One, Intel, New York Life, Price Water House Cooper, JP Morgan, Google and General Electric to name a few.

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