Voorhees College Becomes a University to Celebrate 125 Years
Each week in February, in observance of Black History Month, The Greenville News, Spartanburg Herald Journal, and Anderson Independent Mail will feature South Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities. This is part of a project that will conclude in March with a review of the state of HBCUs in South Carolina.
Rich in history, Voorhees College is a historically black private institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church.
Voorhees College was established in 1897 by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a former student of Booker T. Washington. The first HBCU founded by an African-American woman, Wright inspired the school at Tuskegee Institute, where she was a student.
Voorhees College suffered several arson attacks in the 1890s. It was noted by Wright that she “sat on the steps of their new home weeping as her dream of establishing a school for black children shattered. fainted”.
Wright is buried on campus where she died on Dec. 14, 1906. On the school’s Founders’ Day, students and faculty visit the grave and have a service for Wright, according to Nathaniel Kemp, who works in admissions. .
To celebrate its 125th anniversary, Voorhees plans to change its name from Voorhees College to Voorhees University in April 2022, at the Founder’s Day convocation.
Voorhees College offers Greek Life and is home to the Divine Nine: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Iota Phi Theta, however, Iota Phi Theta is not yet accredited on their campus.
Joshua Duncan, a junior theological studies student, is one of many in his family to attend Voorhees College. There was never any question of him attending as a student from another generation.
Duncan said he was inspired to return to Voorhees after setbacks in life initially caused him to leave.
“It’s a small institution, so it’s like we’re all family. Everyone knows each other. It’s like that in all of HBCUs; we all know the struggle of what it takes to be successful and being black,” Duncan said.
College students are online and in person, depending on the courses taken by the student. Duncan had two classes that were supposed to be in person, but since the class only consisted of him and one other student, the instructors decided to go online.
The college offers programs to study business and entrepreneurship, humanities, education and social sciences, science-technology, health and human services and certificate options in child development, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and small business, data analytics and organizational management.
Quick Facts About Voorhees College
- The tuition and fees for non-boarding students for the 2021-2022 school year are $12,630 and the tuition and fees for board resident students are $19,976. These fees do not include books and other personal expenses. Private colleges and universities do not distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students. Therefore, all students pay the same rate.
- Part-time students (who complete less than 12 hours) are charged $484 per credit hour. The $484 per credit fee also applies to full-time students taking more than 18 credit hours.
- Notable Voorhees College alumni include Janie Anderson Cooper-Smith, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Orangeburg County Council. South Carolina Senate Member Ronnie Sabb, representing District 32 and St. Matthew Councilwoman Sharon Bennett, representing District 6.