Allen University, located in Columbia, South Carolina, is a small historically black institution. It was founded in 1870 by former slaves as Payne Institution in Cokesbury, South Carolina. The school had the dual mission of providing educational opportunities for African Americans and training clergy for the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In 1880 the school moved to a more central location in Columbia and was renamed Allen University in honor of the Reverend Richard Allen, founder and first bishop of the AME Church.
The university is a private, Christian liberal arts institution. Allen University is coeducational, with an enrollment of less than 900 students. The institution has a rather unusual history. Initially the school educated students of all age levels. Young students entered in its grammar school, continued their studies through high school, and then pursued a college degree. The grammar school was discontinued in the 1920s, and the last high school class graduated in 1933. Since that time Allen University has enrolled only college students.
Students at Allen University may pursue eight academic majors. There are 21 areas of concentration available to students including business administration, accounting, finance, English, music, social science, human services, mathematics, biology, chemistry, pre-pharmacy, computer science, pre-engineering, and religious studies. The university confers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.
Allen University offers on campus housing, and there are numerous opportunities for students to engage in campus life. Two new residence halls opened in 2009. More than 30 organizations are available to students including civic, religious, and social groups. Students may choose from honor societies, fraternities, sororities, leadership organizations, and special interest clubs. Varsity sports offered at Allen University include mens basketball, womens basketball, and womens volleyball. The university is a member of the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA). Students may also participate in intramural sports including flag football, basketball, and volleyball.
Allen University has an urban campus, with buildings that comprise the Allen University Historic District. The most recognizable building on campus is the Chappelle Administration Building, a brick structure completed in 1925. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Arnett Hall was built in 1881, and Levi J. Coppin Hall dates to 1906.
The university is located at 1530 Hardin Street in Columbia. Allen University offers guided tours by appointment Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. The schools location is convenient to many of the points of interest and activities that South Carolinas capital has to offer.