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 formerly enslaved people 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 nearly 150 years, since its founding as a co-educational institution, 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. From its founding in the basement of a Methodist Church, Bennett College remains affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
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.
- 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 – 2019, President; August 15, 2016 – July 4, 2017, Interim President)
- Suzanne Elise Walsh (August 1, 2019 – present)