BENEDICT COLLEGE was founded in 1870 on an 80-acre plantation in Columbia, South Carolina. Under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Mrs. Bathsheba A. Benedict of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, provided the amount of $13,000.00 to purchase the land to open Benedict Institute on December 12, 1870. This new school was established for the recently emancipated people of African descent.
Benedict's first class consisted of ten recently emancipated people of African descent and one teacher, the Reverend Timothy L. Dodge, D.D. He was a college-trained preacher from the North, who became president of the Institute. Benedict Institute set our from humble beginnings in a dilapadated former slave master's mansion to prepare men and women to be "powers for good in society." The dilapadated mansion, built in 1839, served as the first schoolhouse where grammar school subjects, along with Bible and theology, were taught. 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 liberal arts college by the South Carolina Legislature and the name "Benedict Institute" was changed to "Benedict College."
From 1870 to 1930, Benedict College was led by seven northern white Baptist ministers, all college trained. 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.
Maintaining a liberal arts tradition, Benedict College now offers bachelor degree programs in twenty-nine major areas of study to meet the needs of a complex and technological society at home and world-wide as the twenty-first century sets new parameters for peoples across the universe.
Taken from "A Brief History of Benedict College"