In 1873, Bennett College had its beginning in the unplastered basement of the Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as St. Matthews United Methodist Church). Seventy young men and women started elementary and secondary level studies. In 1874 the Freedmen’s Aid Society took over the school which remained under its auspices for 50 years.
Within five years of 1873, a group of emancipated slaves purchased the present site for the school. College level courses and permanent facilities were added. In 1926, The Women’s Home Missionary Society joined with the Board of Education of the church to make Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., formerly co-educational, a college for women. The challenges that were overcome to establish Bennett demand that today’s challenges be met and overcome to ensure her survival.
For 144 years women have found Bennett to be the ideal place to foster the constant rhythm of ideas. Each student’s individual need for self-expression and desire for achievement is constantly nurtured. The College fosters a strong respect for every student. Today, in the midst of a very active renaissance, Bennett is preparing contemporary women to be well educated, productive professionals, informed, participating citizens, and enlightened parents. The College offers twenty-four areas of study in Education, the Social Sciences, the Humanities, and in Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Mathematics. Numerous opportunities to study at other higher education institutions at home and abroad are available to continue the educational enrichment of Bennett’s students.
The goals of the College continue to focus on the intellectual, spiritual and cultural growth of young women who must be prepared for lifelong learning and leadership. Since 1930 more than 5,000 women have graduated from Bennett College. Known as Bennett Belles, they continue to be among contributing women of achievement in all walks of life.
Bennett College is a small, private, historically Black liberal arts college for women. The College offers women an education conducive to excellence in scholarly pursuits; preparation for leadership roles in the workplace, society, and the world; and life-long learning in a technologically advanced, complex global society. As a United Methodist Church-related institution, Bennett College promotes morally grounded maturation, intellectual honesty, purposeful public service, and responsible civic action.
The College welcomes students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds, recognizing that the educational experience is enriched and strengthened when multiple voices are represented and heard. Operating in an interdisciplinary, learning-centered environment, students, working with faculty and staff, will learn to use sophisticated intellectual skills, think analytically, and solve problems in ways that respect a variety of viewpoints and deepen their understanding of different cultures.
At Bennett College, education takes place in an environment of open inquiry where teachers and students are immersed in educational processes that build community, foster authentic research, create knowledge, and advance scholarship and personal empowerment. Students will leave Bennett College prepared for success in the world of work and further studies, possessing a greater appreciation of the history and culture of Africa and the African Diaspora, the struggles and accomplishments of women, and a realization of their own ability and the possibilities to help change the world.
Bennett College’s undergirding philosophy is that a high quality college experience should provide its women students with strong academic and co-curricular programs that encourage their personal development, endorse life-long learning, and prepare them to meet the needs of an ever-changing society.
Bennett College values and respects every member of its community. As a United Methodist Church-related institution, the College believes that education should be related to humanitarian ends.
- W.J. Parker (principal) (1874–1877)
- Edward O. Thayer (1877–1881)
- Wilbur F. Steele (1881–1889)
- Charles N. Grandison (1889–1892)
- Jordan D. Chavis (1892–1905)
- Silas A. Peeler (1905–1913)
- James E. Wallace (1913–1915)
- Frank Trigg (1915–1926)
- David Dallas Jones (1926–1955)W
- Willa Beatrice Player (1955–1966) – Bennett’s first female president
- Isaac H. Miller, Jr. (1966–1987)
- Gloria Randle Scott (1987–2001)
- Althia F. Collins (2001–2002)
- Johnnetta B. Cole (2002–2007)
- Julianne Malveaux (2007–2012)
- Esther Terry (2012 – June 30, 2013) – Bennett’s first alumna president
- Rosalind Fuse-Hall (July 1, 2013 – 2016)
- Phyllis Worthy Dawkins (July 5, 2017 — present) — President (August 15, 2016—July 4, 2017, Interim President)