ORANGEBURG, S.C. – South Carolina State University has been ranked as one of the nation’s most influential Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) over the last two decades by Academic Influence, an organization that ranks education institutions using web data.
“This distinction says to the public what our alumni have always known – that South Carolina State University produces quality graduates who go on to affect critical sectors around the world,” SC State President James E. Clark said. “Our alumni have great successes in business, professional athletics, education, the military, the judiciary and even the halls of Congress.
“Everywhere you look, you will find influencers who got their start at SC State,” Clark said.
HBCUs were largely established between the end of slavery in 1865 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to create opportunities in higher education for African Americans. At a time when colleges in the South refused their admission and others had rigid quotas, HBCUs emerged to advance educational, professional, and economic interests among the underserved population.
Today, HBCUs remain a critical source of education, community and opportunity for Black students as well as a cross-section of diverse students. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) categorizes 101 institutions of higher learning as HBCUs across 19 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to NCES, as of 2018, there were 51 public HBCUs and 50 private, non-profit HBCUs providing degrees at every level of higher education — 38 offered associate degree programs, 83 offered bachelor’s degrees, 52 conferred master’s degrees and 27 granted doctoral degrees.
For many students, HBCUs have established themselves as their preferred educational destination, said Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of AcademicInfluence.com and professor of physics at Wake Forest University.
“Students today want more than a degree — they want a college experience that meets their personal needs,” he said. “And more are finding what they want in an HBCU.”
SC State landed at No. 24 on Academic Influence’s list, placing the university in the top third of all fully accredited four-year HBCUs in the country. The organization noted such influential alumni as media icon Armstrong Williams, civil rights leaders Benjamin Mays and Gloria Blackwell, educator and author Essie Mae Washington-Williams, federal Judge Matthew J. Perry, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, and 2017 Miss USA Kára McCullough.
Founded in 2017, Academic Influence is a team of academics and data scientists working to provide an objective, non-gameable influence-based ranking for the people, schools, and disciplinary programs that make up higher education. The organization’s ranking technology scours the web’s leading data repositories to map and objectively measure the influence of a school’s thought leadership through its students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
“Students concerned about bias and gamesmanship in college rankings can find a more accurate assessment of scholarly impact with AcademicInfluence.com,” Macosko said. “Our rankings are based primarily on objective influence data rather than on some unknown person’s subjective feelings about a college or university or on self-reported info that can be skewed or obsolete.
“It’s why we believe students can trust AcademicInfluence.com over the alternatives,” Macosko said.
SC State President James E. Clark (left) and Board of Trustees Chairman Rodney Jenkins (right) present an honorary doctorate to media icon and SC State alumnus Armstrong Williams at Spring Commencement in May 2021. Williams was among the influential alumni noted by Academic Influence in its analysis of the university’s standing.