Columbia International University
The banners that line the entrance to Columbia International University are more than decorative. They represent flags of countries where graduates of the evangelical Bible college have planted Christian missions or embarked on other endeavors to fulfill CIU’s mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Founded in 1923 as Columbia Bible School, CIU now has nearly 1,300 students enrolled in its undergraduate, graduate and seminary programs. Among CIU’s ministries, Ben Lippen School , a pre-K-12 college preparatory Christian school, is nestled on its 400-acre suburban campus in north Columbia. CIU also operates two Christian radio stations.
Columbia College survived the torching of the city by Union General Tecumseh Sherman, and two more 20th century fires, to become known as a place where young women can become leaders. The college began in 1854 with a bold ambition: “to educate young women for fruitful service to church, state and nation.” The academic experiment by the South Carolina United Methodist Conference defied the era’s view of women’s roles, but ended up launching thousands of young women into successful positions in business, education and other professions.
The private four-year college in north Columbia has about 1,300 students. Once considered a white-glove school for young ladies of the South, Columbia College has evolved its mission to become a home to first-generation college students from diverse and international backgrounds. Since the 1990s, women have held the presidency as well.
When you hear that gathering storm of trained young male and female African-American voices, you know it is Benedict College’s award winning Gospel Choir. The choir, under the direction of Darryl Izzard, has put Benedict on the musical map and is a draw for its 3,000 undergraduates who audition to be part of the troupe.
Benedict was born out of the havoc of the Civil War when Bathsheba Benedict, a Rhode Island native, established the college on an 80-acre plot in Columbia in 1870. She enlisted the Baptist Home Mission in educating emancipated slaves and elevating the newly freed African-Americans to be “powers for good in society.”
Since then, the private, co-educational Benedict College has educated thousands of African-American students and served as a beacon of hope during the civil rights era of the 20th century.
Care to take a walk down history’s lane? A stone’s throw from Benedict sits Allen University, which can lay claim to designation as an historic district on the National Register of Historic Places for its four buildings situated around the campus green. Allen offers its undergraduates an education steeped in the mission of its institutional founder, the African-Methodist Episcopal Church. Initially, a student could walk on to the 19th century campus and be educated from kindergarten through graduate school in law and theology, as the church sought to turn newly freed slaves into thinking, prosperous citizens.
Today, Allen offers the school’s 700 students eight academic majors and 17 concentrations in areas of math and science, business and the humanities. In 2012, Allen inaugurated Pamela M. Wilson as its first female president.
Midlands Technical College
Think of Midlands Technical College as a creative funnel to the state’s four-year colleges and universities. With six campuses spread throughout the Midlands, Midlands Tech is a gateway institution for 18,000 students annually to develop career skills or go on to obtain their undergraduate degrees at four-year institutions.
Founded in 1974, Midlands Tech offers more than 100 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs and aims to make college affordable to people at all income levels. Midlands Tech, part of the South Carolina Technical College System, is the largest source of transfer students to the University of South Carolina.