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Bennett College

Official Bennett College seal
Established 1873
Type Private women's college
President Julianne Malveaux
Undergraduates 572
Location Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
Campus Urban
Colors Blue and White
Nickname The Belles
This article is about the historically black women's college in Greensboro, North Carolina. For the women's college in Millbrook, New York which existed from 1890 to 1978, see Bennett College (New York).

Bennett College is a four-year liberal arts women's college in Greensboro, North Carolina. Founded in 1873, this historically black institution began as a normal school to provide education to newly emancipated slaves. It became a women's college in 1926 and currently serves roughly 600 undergraduates.

Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou have recently offered public support to Bennett College.




Bennett's founding and coeducational years

Bennett College was founded in 1873 by Albion Tourgee an activist in the second half of the 19th century who championed the cause of racial equality. The school held its inaugural classes in the basement of Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church North (now St. Matthew's United Methodist) in Greensboro. At its inception, Bennett was a coeducational school (offering both high school and college level courses), and remained so until 1926. The year after its founding, the school became sponsored by the Freedman's Aid Society and Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The school remained in temporary quarters for several years, until donations from New York businessman Lyman Bennett provided sufficient funds to build a permanent campus. Bennett died soon thereafter, and the school was named Bennett Seminary in his honor.

In 1888, Bennett Seminary elected its first African-American school president, the Reverend Charles Grandison. Grandison spearheaded a successful drive to have the school chartered as a four year college in 1889. Under his direction, and the direction of the president who followed him (Jordan Chavis), Bennett College grew from 11 undergraduate students to a total of 251 undergraduates by 1905. The enrollment leveled out in the 1910s at roughly 300.

Bennett College Traditions

Bennett College for Women has many traditions to which they hold dear. To name a few:

  • Covocotum Est.
  • Charter Day
  • Parting Ceremony
  • Big Sister, Little Sister
  • White Breakfast
  • Senior Day
  • ACES
  • Senior Day Banquet
  • Faculty and Staff Recognition Day
  • Morehouse College Homecoming

Traditional Dress: White dresses, fleshtone stockings, and black shoes

The attire of Bennett women were dresses, stockings (fleshtone), hats, pocket books, shoes, pearls and gloves. Pearls are the symbol of womanhood. This style is a steeple in Bennett's "herstory."

Bennett today

Bennett College has 678 students, all women and primarily of African-American descent, enrolled in one of Bennett's 24 degree programs. Bennett is currently ranked #16 among the top historically black colleges and universities, both for its academic achievements and its relatively reasonable tuition rates. Today Bennett is reorganizing and revitalizing its campus and academic infrastructure. Bennett's brother school is Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. This relationship developed through the close and historic friendship of former Bennett College President Dr. David Dallas Jones and former Morehouse College President Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.

Presidents of the College

There have been fifteen principals or presidents of Bennett College [1]

  1. W.J. Parker (principal) (1874 - 1877)[1]
  2. Reverend Edward O. Thayer (1877 - 1881)[1]
  3. Reverend Wilbur F. Steele - (1881 - 1889)[1]
  4. Reverend Charles N. Grandison - (1889 - 1892)[1]
  5. Dr. Jordan Chavis - (1892-1905)[1]
  6. Reverend Silas A. Peeler - (1905 - 1913)[1]
  7. Professor James E. Wallace - (1913 - 1915)[1]
  8. Reverend Frank Trigg - (1915 - 1926)[1]
  9. David Dallas Jones - (1926 - 1955)[2]
  10. Dr. Willa B. Player - (1956 - 1966)[3]
  11. Dr. Isaac H. Miller, Jr. - (1966 - 1987)
  12. Dr. Gloria Randle Scott - (1987 - 2001)
  13. Dr. Althia F. Collins - (2001 - 2002)[4]
  14. Dr. Charles Fuget - (2002, interim)[4]
  15. Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole - (2002 - 2007)
  16. Dr. Julianne Malveaux (beginning June 1, 2007)

Unique academic programs

Bennett has incorporated three new programs[5] that are aimed at increasing students' awareness of the struggles and accomplishments of all women, especially those of African descent; and staying in-step with the ever-changing climate of today's globally integrated society: Womanist Religious Studies, Global Studies, Africana Women's Studies and The New Academy.

Residence halls

Referred to as Living Learning Centers, Bennett College houses its students in the following five facilities:

  • Carrie Barge Hall
  • Laura Cone Hall
  • Robert E. Jones Hall
  • Willa B. Player Hall
  • Jessie Reynolds Hall

Student organizations

There are over 50 campus social, service, religious, and the student government association organizations .

Notable alumnae

Name Class year Notability Reference
Dr. Glendora M. Putnam first African-American woman to serve as president of the national YWCA
Faye Robinson opera singer
Dr. Hattie Carwell noted research scientist and expert in the study of radiation
Barbara Hamm the first African-American woman to serve as a television news director in the United States
Patricia Brown Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Yvonne J. Johnson first black mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina
Dr. Linda B. Brown author and professor of English at Bennett College
Dr. Allethia Lee Allen professor-emeritus, University of Washington
Dr. Dorothy L. Brown first African American woman general surgeon in the south and to serve on the Tennessee State Legislature
Belinda Foster first African American District Attorney in North Carolina
Dr. Talia McCray noted research scientist
Maidie Norman Actress
Marion L. Bell noted educator
Monica Conyers former Detroit City Council Member
Michelle Huff Founder of Huff Entertainment
Kimberly Morton Cuthrell Author of book series "Splinters of My Soul"
Mary Jacobs Durham City Council at large (1997 - 2001), Durham Board of Commissioners (2002 - 2004)
Sandra Smith Activist

See also


  • Guy-Sheftall, Beverly. "Black Women and Higher Education: Spelman and Bennett Colleges Revisited." The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 51, No. 3, The Impact of Black Women in Education: An Historical Overview (Summer, 1982), pp. 278-287.


External links


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