Allen University is a private, coeducational historically Black university located in Columbia, South Carolina , United States . Allen University has more than 600 students and still serves a predominantly Black constituency. [8]


Allen University was founded in Cokesbury in 1870 as Payne Institute by a number of ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, including John M. Brown . Its initial mission was to provide education to freedmen, former African American slaves and their children.

In 1880, it was moved to Columbia and renamed Allen University in honor of Bishop Richard Allen , founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church . The university remains connected to the denomination, which is related to other Methodist churches . As one of two black colleges located in Columbia, Allen has a very strong presence in the African-American community. Allen University initially focused on training ministers and teachers, who were considered critical to the progress of African Americans. Over the years, it has enlarged its scope to produce graduates in other academic areas.

In 1885, Joseph W. Morris became president of the University.


The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees through various schools.

  • Division of Humanities
    • Department of English
    • Department of Music
  • Division of Social Sciences
  • Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
    • Department of Biology
    • Department of Chemistry
    • Department of Mathematics
  • Division of Business Administration
  • Division of Religion

In 2010, Washington Monthly reported in its annual College Guide edition that the school had a six percent graduation rate. [5]


Buildings such as Arnett Hall, the Chappelle Administration Building , Coppin Hall, the Joseph Simon Flippen Library, and the Canteen Building are included in what is designated as the Allen University Historic District, listed in 1975 on the National Register of Historic Places . [2] [7] [8]

Several of the district's buildings were restored, using $2.9 million in funds obtained through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Building Restoration and Preservation Act. Chappelle Auditorium's seating capacity of 700 has made it the site of countless organizations' and community events.

The auditorium was the site of the meeting of educators and lawyers to initiate efforts that led to the landmark US Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954) on school integration.

In addition, nationally known musicians and artists, including Leontyne Price, Brooks Benton and Langston Hughes, have performed in the auditorium. Notable speakers include: Mary McCloud Bethune, Reverend Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Reverend Jesse Jackson, George Elmore, John H. McCray, and Senator Strom Thurmond.

Chappelle Auditorium was designed by John Anderson Langford (1874-1946), who is known as the 'Dean of Black Architects.’ He served as the official architect of the AME Church. The auditorium was named in honor of Bishop William D. Chappelle , an Allen University President. On April 14, 1975, Chappelle Auditorium was recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior and placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

Student life

Allen University is the home of more than 15 students on-campus organizations.

Academic Organizations/Honor Societies

Civic, Religious and Social Organizations

  • NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
  • B.A.S.I.C. (Brothers and Sisters In Christ)
  • Global Outreach Campus Ministries
  • Chic Republic
  • Allen University Chorale
  • Gospel Choir
  • Allen University Cheerleaders
  • Groove Phi Groove
  • Students for Positive Change
  • Yellow Jacket CARES
  • Spartan ENT.
  • A.U.I.S.C (Allen University International Student Club)

Leadership and Development Organizations

  • Student Government Association
  • Student Activities Board
  • Allen University Student Ambassadors
  • Pre-Alumni Association
  • Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team
  • Allen University Chorale
  • Mu Omicron Chi fraternity

National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations

Allen University has eight of the nine national black fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic Council present on campus.

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Alpha Kappa Alpha ΑΚΑ Mu M
Alpha Phi Alpha ΑΦΑ Gamma Gamma ΓΓ
Delta Sigma Theta ΔΣΘ Gamma Pi ΓΠ
Kappa Alpha Psi ΚΑΨ Beta Rho ΒΡ
Omega Psi Phi ΩΨΦ Mu Sigma ΜΣ
Phi Beta Sigma ΦΒΣ Alpha Omicron ΑΟ
Sigma Gamma Rho ΣΓΡ Beta Iota ΒΙ
Zeta Phi Beta ΖΦΒ Lambda Λ


Allen University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Yellow Jackets, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing as a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC), effective in the 2016-17 school year. [13] The Yellow Jackets formerly competed in the now-defunct Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) and as an Independent of the Association of Independent Institutions (AII). Men's sports include basketball; while women's sports include basketball and volleyball.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability References
Sam Davis former professional American football player
Hall Johnson 1908 American composer and arranger
George Harold former professional American football player
Joseph DeLaine minister and civil rights leader who worked with South Carolina NAACP on the legal case Briggs vs Elliot in 1952. It was one of the four cases argued under Brown vs. Board of Education
Lewis C. Dowdy 1939 American educator ; Sixth president and first chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University [9]
Ralph Anderson 1949 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives (1991- 1996) South Carolina Senate, 19th District (1997)
Dewitt Williams 1950 member of the South Carolina Senate, 102nd District (1983-1996-present)SC Senate (1996-1997) District 102nd
Judge Daniel E. Martin, Sr 1954 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 111th District (1984-1988)Circuit Curt Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of SC in Charleston
Floyd Breeland 1955 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1111th District (1992-2008)
Kay Patterson 1956 member of the South Carolina Senate, 7th District (1985-2008)
Joe E. Brown 1956 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 73rd District (1997)
William Clyburn 1964 member of Aiken City Counci (1973-1980)(1983-1983)the South Carolina House of Representatives, 82nd District (1995-Present)
Rev. Dr. Mack T. Hines 1969 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 59th District (1995-2007)
Clementa Carlos Pinckney 1995 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 73rd District (1997- 2000) SC Senate District 45 (2000-2015)
Tywanza Sanders 2014 victim of the Charleston church shooting