Elizabeth Evelyn Wright Menafee, a 1894 alumna of Tuskegee University who would go on to found Voorhees College, was inducted posthumously into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in February 2020. She is credited as the first African-American woman to establish an institution of higher learning – and one that remains in operation today.

Manafee was the seventh of 21 children – the daughter of John Wesley Wright and his wife Virginia Rolfe. She enrolled in then-Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute at 16. After receiving her degree in 1894, Menafee took the teaching of Booker T. Washington’s industrial and agricultural model and applied it to helping educate African-American men and women in the area of Hampton County, South Carolina.

After several attempts to establish a school in the area due to arson attacks, Menafee concentrated her efforts in the Denmark, South Carolina, community. With significant funding from churches and community members, Menafee successfully established the Denmark Industrial School in 1897. Now known as Voorhees College, the school’s name was changed in 1902 to honor philanthropists Ralph and Elizabeth Voorhees of New Jersey, who played a major role in the school’s 280-acre expansion.

Menafee received a successful nomination into the South Carolina Hall of Fame because of her efforts to establish the institution and her willingness to provide opportunities for self-advancement through education. The college’s current president, Dr. W. Franklin Evans, was present to accept the award, along with two of Wright’s descendants: Jewel Barrett and her daughter Jewel Delegall.

Today, Voorhees College operates as a four-year, co-educational, career-oriented liberal arts college affiliated with the Episcopal Church and UNCF. The private, historically black college touts an enrollment of around 600 students and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s degrees.

The South Carolina Hall of Fame recognizes and honors both contemporary and past citizens who have made outstanding contributions to South Carolina’s heritage and progress. Each year, the Hall of Fame honors two contemporary and one deceased inductees.

For more information about the South Carolina Hall of Fame, visit www.theofficialschalloffame.com.

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Joseph Montgomery, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success at Tuskegee University.

TUSKEGEE, AL – Joseph Montgomery, a Voorhees College graduate, was recently selected as the vice president of enrollment management and student success at Tuskegee University. The newly created position signals the university’s strategic realignment of functions that recruit, on board and support students throughout their matriculation.

Montgomery will be responsible for four key university areas: admissions, financial aid, registration and records, and retention and student success. These key areas define the size, shape, and character of the student body.

Additionally, he will develop a comprehensive strategy based on enhancing the student experience and the institution’s academic reputation.

Montgomery said he is honored to have been selected for a position that correlates with his passion and years of experience and training. “I have the opportunity to continue making a difference in the lives of HBCU college students. Now I will make a difference at the very institution Voorhees founder Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, received her education from,” said Montgomery said.

Before coming onboard to Tuskegee, Montgomery served as director of higher education services for the College Board, a membership-based advocacy association comprised of 6,000-plus educational institutions and serving more than 7 million students worldwide through college readiness and student success programs.

Montgomery’s career experience prior to the College Board includes more than a decade of progressive university-based admissions leadership assignments at North Carolina A&T State University, Voorhees College, and the University of Miami.

Montgomery graduated from Voorhees with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He earned a master’s degree in adult education from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University. In 2018, he was inducted into the Voorhees College Young Alumni 10 Under 40 Program.

DENMARK, S.C. – Voorhees College recently ended the fiscal year raising $1,150,850.35.

The Voorhees College National Alumni Association (VCNAA) contributed more than $200,000 this fiscal year. The association has generated $1M in funds over the last five years.

President W. Franklin Evans said Voorhees College alumni are second to non and one of the institution’s biggest supporters.

“Our alumni have been an intricate part in the success of the institution. They come through to assist whenever they are called upon giving from their hearts,” said Evans. “I salute our Tiger alumni family for what they have achieved.”

Also, during the fiscal year, Voorhees celebrated reaching 100% faculty and staff giving. Sarah Simpson, development officer for faculty/staff giving and church relations, said this has not been done before.

“Throughout the year, we created new avenues for faculty/staff appreciation and giving efforts. Strengthening affinity and commitments to the institution we all serve,” Simpson said.

The Division of Institution Advancement and Development under the direction of Vice President Dr. Gwynth R. Nelson, successfully surpassed the annual goal of raising $1M two fiscal years in a row. This year saw an increase in two of the institution’s signature events: UNCF Corporate and Community Lunchoen which raises more than $15,000 and the Presidential Scholarship Gala which raised approximately $200,000.

Nelson said Voorhees has had a successful 2018-2019 fiscal year.

“I would like to thank my team, all of the loyal Voorhees supporters, and President Evans’ vision.  We are already putting our resources together to launch several campaigns for the new fiscal year. Our capabilities will be limitless as we continue to begin, believe, and become Voorhees College,” said Nelson.

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About Voorhees College

Voorhees College is a four-year, co-educational, career-oriented liberal arts colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. Voorhees College is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s degrees. For more information, visit www.voorhees.edu.

The campus of Voorhees College, a Historically Black College, located in Denmark, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of the HCF)

DENMARK, S.C. – The United Thank Offering (UTO) of the Episcopal Church recently awarded Voorhees College $73,700 to assist with the Voorhees College Campus Community Initiative (VCCCI).

According to a press release from the University, the VCCCI is a two-part project that allows Voorhees to meet the needs of students and community by providing access to education and wellness limited in rural South Carolina. The institution will renovate a building to serve as an admissions center and will create a wellness and fitness complex.

The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that promotes thankfulness and service in the church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded on an annual basis for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

The focus of the 2019 granting process was “Go Crossing boundaries created by race, culture, and economics to create communities that listen deeply and learn to live like Jesus.” This year, the UTO Board received more than 75 applications and was able to fund grants to 33 projects.

Voorhees College President W. Franklin Evans said Voorhees would not have reached as many heights as it has without the support of the Episcopal Church. “It is an honor and a blessing to receive that financial assistance to rebuild the campus and the Denmark community. This partnership is strong and built on faith, Evans said. “With God in control, the boundaries will be limitless on continuing to make Voorhees a premier liberal arts institutions,” said Evans.

Voorhees College and Saint Augustine’s are the only Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that supported by the Episcopal Church.

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About Voorhees College

Voorhees College is a private historically black liberal arts institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church, whose mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, health living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. For more information, visit www.voorhees.edu.

About United Thank Offering

The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovate mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion. For more information, visit www.episcopalchurch.org.

DENMARK, SCVoorhees College continually holds the distinct honor of being the last institution standing that was founded by one of Booker T. Washington’s students.

Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, who was at the age of 23, began her studies at Booker T. Washington’s famed Tuskegee Institute. She said time at Tuskegee gave her a mission in life: being “the same type of woman as Mr. Washington was of a man.” Knowing the importance of education, she moved to Denmark and started the first of several schools in the rural area. She survived threats, attacks, and arson.

Wright went back to Tuskegee to finish her degree before returning to South Carolina to try again. Undeterred and envisioning a better future for blacks through education, she founded Denmark Industrial School in 1897, modeling it after Tuskegee. New Jersey philanthropist Ralph Voorhees and his wife donated $5,000 to buy the land and build the first building, allowing the school to open in 1902 with Wright as principal. It was the only high school for blacks in the area.

In 1947, the school became Voorhees School and Junior College. And in 1962, it was accredited as four-year Voorhees College.

Today, Voorhees College survives as a small institution that takes pride in its rich history and is dedicated to catering to student’s academic, professional, social, and spiritual needs in order to assist them in fulfilling their higher education goals. Dating back to Wright’s era, there has been a debate between those who follow the philosophy of Dr. Booker T. Washington and advocated education aimed at teaching job skills and those who believe, as Dr. W.E.B. Dubois did, that a liberal education would help young adults develop as leaders. The Voorhees curriculum today is a mix of the two views.

The institution offers each student a comprehensive general education experience coupled with a values-centered liberal arts environment that supports opportunities designed to help prepare students to function in a diverse and increasingly technology society.

 

Source: www.voorhees.edu/blog/voorhees-the-last-school-standing

DENMARK, SC – As we approach February and Black History Month, Voorhees College, a private historically black college (HBCU) located in Denmark, South Carolina, prepares to celebrate the month beginning with its kick-off celebration event.

Dr. Alice Ridgill, founder and pastor of New Faith Presbyterian Church, will be the featured speaker for the Voorhees College Black History Month Kick-off Celebration. This free and open to the public event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m. on campus.

Ridgill is a native of Manning, S.C. and graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a concentration in music. She earned a master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate degree in ministry from the Erskine Theological Seminary.

Prior to founding New Faith Presbyterian Church in 2010, Ridgill served as pastor of the former Washington Street Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, S.C. and as an adjunct professor of pastoral care at the Erskine Theological Seminary.

On October 30, 2005, in recognition of her unwavering commitment to the community, she was presented the Key to the City of Abbeville, making her one of the youngest individuals to ever receive the prestigious honor.

Ridgill’s past and current board affiliations include: Piedmont Technical College Board of Visitors, Greenwood Food Bank Board of Directors, Presbyterians Caring for Chaplains and Military Personnel Board of Directors, Presbyterian Mission Agency Board of Directors, and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Board of Directors.

“Dr. Ridgill has displayed extraordinary leadership within her communities by spreading God’s word to the people, ministering, and completing mission efforts. Her words will be encouraging to our students and help them put their educational goals into perspective.” said Samuel Blackwell, vice president for planning and information management.

For more information, contact Megan Freeman, director of communications, at 803-780-1191 or at mfreeman@voorhees.edu.