May 28, 2021
The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin University and Africa University to Add Master’s Degree in Biotechnology to Academic Partnership
Pictured from left to right: Rev. James Salley, vice chancellor for institutional advancement, Africa University; Dr. Verlie Tisdale, interim vice provost, Claflin University; Professor Peter Mageto, acting vice chancellor, Africa University; President Dwaun J. Warmack, and Dr. Karl Wright, provost, Claflin University.
When Claflin University announced its partnership with Africa University in March 2017, the agreement reaffirmed the University’s commitment to global engagement through its transformative academic programs and world-class faculty. The partnership is largely based on a faculty/student exchange program which is consistent with Claflin's vision to "develop a diverse and inclusive community of globally engaged visionary leaders."

Claflin administrators and Professor Peter Mageto, acting vice chancellor at Africa University, met in Orangeburg, S.C., recently to review the status of an exciting new component of their historic collaboration – Claflin’s plan to offer classes online to Africa University students who want to earn a Master of Science degree in biotechnology. The program is expected to begin in 2022.

“The master’s in biotechnology program will significantly enhance our historic partnership with Africa University,” said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. “A master’s degree in biotechnology will increase employment opportunities considerably for their students in the global workforce. The program also expands Claflin’s brand throughout the continent. This will help us recruit talented diverse scholars, faculty, and researchers from Africa and other countries.” 

Mageto was appointed acting vice chancellor at Africa University in January 2021. He succeeded the university's fourth vice chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa, who died suddenly during the same month. Mageto traveled to the United States to confirm the university’s fervent support for the master’s in biotechnology program.   

“We see biotechnology as a program that will strengthen our relationship with Claflin,” said Mageto. “We also see this as an opportunity to develop an international program that will attract students from beyond our borders and impact how governments will begin to think about biotechnology and climate change.”
 
Africa University, located in Zimbabwe, is the first and only fully accredited institution of higher learning established on the African continent by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The General Conference unanimously approved the founding of Africa University in 1988. 

The official groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 1991. In January 1992, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, issued the University Charter by official proclamation, making the institution the first recognized private university in Zimbabwe. Both Claflin and Africa University are affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
 
Although COVID-19 has interrupted the partnership's faculty/student exchange initiative, Africa University and Claflin administrators continued their strategic planning through virtual communications platforms. Much like colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Africa University’s academic programs transitioned to 100 percent online during the pandemic. The school’s proficiency in virtual instruction and its outstanding academic programs contributed to a dramatic increase in online enrollment. According to Mageto, enrollment grew from 2,400 to 3,000 students.
 
“We see ourselves as a learning, teaching, and research center that benefits tremendously from this partnership,” said Mageto. “Everyone is very excited about the M.S. in biotechnology program.  The enrollment numbers will be shocking because the program is both historic and unique.”
Pipeline Program Connects Underrepresented Minorities to Physician Assistant Profession
Claflin students are dedicating one Saturday each month to an all-day Zoom session to get in-depth information about the physician assistant career path.
When high school or college students think about health care careers, they’re likely thinking of the most well-known of health professions: doctors and nurses. But health care today encompasses many more professions.

Physician assistant (PA) is one such profession, and a pilot program between the Medical University of South Carolina and Claflin University, South Carolina’s oldest HBCU (Historically Black College/University), is seeking to introduce more underrepresented minority undergraduates to this career path.

The year-long program, which began in March, will unlock some of the mysteries of PA school applications, explore the career opportunities available to PAs, and connect the undergraduates with PAs of color.

“We also want them to know, you can go anywhere. We hope you choose MUSC, but if you don’t, the profession awaits you - and wants you,” said DaNine Fleming, Ed.D., associate chief officer for inclusive excellence in the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at MUSC.

Studies show that diversity among health care providers and researchers improve care and changes the research questions that are asked. Right now, though, less than four percent of certified PAs are black.

Fleming, a Claflin alum (Class of 1996), and Claflin administrators discussed how students are often unaware of the many options in health care. Fleming herself admits she didn’t know much about PAs until she began working at MUSC, which offers a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies through its College of Health Professions.

"There is much that is unsaid about the PA school application process leaving unconnected students in the dark," Fleming said.

“Many students of color don’t have the same kind of patient contact hours, and that precludes them sometimes from being as competitive as other students,” she said. “We keep hearing, ‘Oh, you don’t need patient contact,’ but the average student who applies to programs has anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 contact hours.” MORE (Leslie Cantu/Medical University of South Carolina)
Alumni News
Bradley Knox, '14, was named the new head coach for the boys’ basketball team at Darlington High School (DHS) in Darlington, S.C. Knox is also an assistant coach for the school’s cross-country team. Knox was a physical education teacher at Darlington Middle School.  He has also served as head coach for the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams, and the varsity girls’ basketball team at DHS. 
Rev. Jamie T. Paulk, '98, is the new principal at Dublin High School in Dublin, Ga. Paulk received his undergraduate degree in elementary education from Claflin University and his education specialist degree focused in educational leadership from Georgia College and State University.
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President: Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
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