“We teach the mind to think, the hands to work and the heart to love.” This captures the essence of what it means to prepare the whole person for life service.


Mission Statement

Allen University is an academic community which provides students an opportunity to obtain baccalaureate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and professional programs. The University has a strong unalterable commitment to teaching in delivery of its baccalaureate and graduate programs.


Allen University is a Christian Liberal Arts institution whose purpose is to prepare leaders who are skilled in communication, critical thinking, and who demonstrate high moral character. Our aim is to provide an environment of academic excellence in order to heighten our students’ chances of succeeding in a culturally diverse and economically global world. Allen University desires to follow a Total Life Curriculum model, which addresses preparation of the whole person for life service.

We seek to develop the intellect, the spirit, and the body as we bring our students into a climate designed for success. Successful development of each student is our goal. Allen believes that faith plays a major role in developing one’s character. Therefore, our curriculum includes principles and practices of the historical beliefs of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Core Values

Allen University’s core values are selected principles that govern our behavior and operation as an organized body:

Integrity: Allen University seeks to practice truth and propriety in our personal and corporate practices and relationships.

Accountability: Allen University accepts its responsibility to be consistent in sound practices, loyal in reference to duties, agreements, obligations and relationships.

Respect: Allen University aspires for its faculty, staff and students to live and work in harmony with peers, by respecting each individual’s right to exist, think and speak in an appropriate manner. The dignity of each one will be honored by all.

Excellence: Allen University is committed to the vigorous pursuit of excellence in our educational endeavors.

Faith: Allen University is a Christian liberal arts institution of higher learning under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Celebrating Over a Century of Education

Allen University celebrated its centennial year in 1970, thus closing a century of fulfilling its educational mission. The institution, founded in 1870 by former slaves, still provides undergraduate education with an unalterable commitment to teaching, research and community service, undergirded by the faith expressed in the motto of the African Methodist Episcopal Church: “God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, Man our brother.”

Allen University celebrates each year with a renewed commitment to prepare its students to meet the challenges of this century. That commitment is reflected in the University’s attainment and maintenance of accreditation to award the baccalaureate degree by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its accepted membership in the UNCF (United Negro College Fund). The University remains faithful to the dreams of its founders and to its historic mission and purpose as expressed in its motto, “We teach the mind to think, the hands to work, and the heart to love.”

Distinguished Alumni

The productivity of Allen University is reflected in the accomplishments of the graduates of the institution.  Alumni of Allen University have distinguished themselves in almost every field of endeavor. Allen Alumni have a history of forging pathways to greatness in their chosen profession by becoming judges, legislators, business leaders, and entrepreneurs.  In addition, eight graduates of Allen University have become presidents of colleges and universities. This list includes:

Dr. William C. Brown (Barber Scotia College and Fayetteville State University)
Dr. Lewis Dowdy (North Carolina A&T State University)
Dr. Jerome L. Gresham (Barber Scotia College)
Dr. John Middleton (Morris Brown College)
Dr. Iona B. Mishoe (Delaware State College)
Dr. Wardell Nichols (Allen University)
Dr. Sylvia P. Swinton (Allen University)
Dr. Frank R. Veal (Allen University)

Allen University’s leading role in the preparation of clergy for the African Methodist Episcopal Church is reflected in those alumni who have become Bishops of the Church. This list includes:

Harrison James Bryant (Deceased)
Vernon Randolph Byrd (Deceased)
William David Chappelle (Deceased)
Monroe Hortensius Davis (Deceased)
Zedekiah Lazett Grady
Lawrence H. Hemingway (Deceased)
Richard Allen Hildebrand (Deceased)
Frederick Calhoun James
Henry Wendell Murph (Deceased)
George Dewey Robinson (Deceased)
Frederick Hilborn Talbot
David R. Daniels, Jr.

Allen University alumni continue to prove to the world even in the present century that black people can and do produce worthwhile and needed services in the governmental forces of our state and nation. As a result of the type of training offered at Allen University, several alumni have been elected, served and are still serving in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Founded by the AME Church

The Allen University story begins seven years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and five years after the end of the American Civil War. The end of that conflict saw significant expansion of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the former Confederate States. Allen University grew out of the church’s desire to educate newly freed slaves and to ensure a well-trained clergy for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Right Reverend John Mifflin Brown and the assembled clergy of the Columbia District of the AME Church, on July 29, 1870, agreed to raise funds to purchase a 150-acre farm in Cokesbury, South Carolina. They did so in hopes of locating a school there that would be the “FIRST INSTITUTION OF LEARNING CONSECRATED TO NEGRO SELF ACTIVITY AND NEGRO MANHOOD,” in the state of South Carolina.

The Reverend Simon Miller led a five-person committee in the actual development of a school on that land. Reverend Miller, who served as Presiding Elder of the Abbeville District of the AME Church and as founding pastor of Miller Chapel AME Church in Newberry, saw that hope become reality in the establishment of Payne Institute. The school was named in honor of Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne (shown below), a native South Carolinian, the founder of Wilberforce University and the driving force behind the quest for an educated clergy and laity in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Payne Institute came into being in spite of objections of white South Carolinians who had a fear of educated African-Americans, and of black and white missionaries from the northern states, who questioned the ability of the AME Church to undertake such an educational enterprise. Through God’s grace, the Reverend Miller presented the deed for the land and buildings to the Columbia Annual Conference of the AME Church in 1871, making Payne Institute the property of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Relocating to Columbia

The next significant development in the history of Allen University came during the Episcopal leadership of the Right Reverend William Fisher Dickerson. Bishop Dickerson saw the opportunity to create a stronger and larger institution by relocating Payne Institute to Columbia, the centrally located capitol city of South Carolina and led the way in doing so in 1880. Property was purchased in Columbia for $6,000, and Payne Institute was relocated and renamed Allen University. The University is the only institution of higher learning named for the Right Reverend Richard Allen (shown below), the first consecrated Bishop and acknowledged founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Allen University is the first such institution in South Carolina founded by African-Americans with the purpose of educating African-Americans.

The prophetic nature of Bishop Dickerson’s vision for the University was affirmed by the University’s rapid growth in Columbia. Within nine years of Allen University’s establishment and with the leadership of Presidents J.C. Walters and J.W. Morris, the institution produced 75 graduates. Twelve earned baccalaureate degrees, 15 were graduated with degrees in law, and 48 finished the Normal (teaching) Department. A Theological Department was established and named in honor of Bishop Dickerson.

Allen University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and masters degrees. Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call (404) 679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Allen University.

Allen University’s SACS Leadership Team:

  • Marilyn DeBerry
  • Ruby Fielding
  • Kenneth Green
  • Christopher Rounds
  • Charlene Spearen
  • Kevin Trumpeter
  • Michelle Young
  • SACS Resources


The affairs of the University are administered via the Office of the President.  Reporting to the President are cabinet officers who administer the divisions of the institution.

Dr. Ernest McNealey – President


  • Dr. Charlene Spearen – Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Mrs. Ruby Fielding – Vice President for Fiscal Affairs
  • Vacant –Vice President for Institutional Advancement
  • Dr. Cynthia Sellers-Simon – Vice President for Student Affairs


The governance of Allen University is a function of the University’s Board of Trustees. Board members are as follows:

  • The Right Reverend Dr. Samuel L. Green Sr., Chairman
  • Mr. Alfred R. Berkeley III
  • The Honorable James E. Clyburn
  • Rev. Robert B. Cooper, Sr.
  • The Honorable Tamara C. Curry
  • Mr. Norman L. Deas
  • Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr.
  • Mr. Sy Holt
  • Mr. Willie F. Johnson
  • Rev. Dr. Juenarrl Keith
  • Ms. Bobra Bright McAdams
  • Rev. Dr. Allen W. Parrott
  • Rev. Dr. Caesar R. Richburg
  • Mr. David Rivers
  • Rev. William Smith, Jr.


Allen University Organizational Chart

Organizational Chart Allen University 2017

Administrative Divisions

  • Division for Academic Affairs
  • Division for Fiscal Affairs
  • Division for Institutional Advancement
  • Division for Student Affairs

View Division Information

Leadership News

We are always looking for talented and qualified individuals for faculty and staff positions.

We are accepting applications for faculty and staff in the following positions:


PLEASE NOTE:  All applicants must pass a background check.

Work Schedule: These are full-time positions working Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 pm, with occasional evening and weekend hours as deemed necessary. Police Officers work shifts.

 Application Procedure:

 A complete application package is required for any position for which you apply. The application should include the following items:

• Cover Letter – a letter of application addressing your interest and ability to enhance Allen University’s advancement capacity in a highly diverse environment

• A Curriculum Vitae or Resume detailing education, experience, and professional activities

• A completed Allen University Employment Application which can be downloaded from link or obtained from 1530 Harden Street

• Three (3) letters of professional references including email addresses and telephone numbers

All materials should be sent to the following address: Allen University, Office of Human Resources, 1530 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29204. Application materials may also be submitted electronically to Employment with Allen University is contingent upon a background check and proper documentation of identity and employability. All new employees are required to provide official transcripts within 30 days of employment.