The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin University Prepares for Hurricane Florence

Governor Henry McMasters declared a state of emergency for the state of South Carolina and ordered mandatory evacuations of the Coastline.  As the safety of students, faculty and staff is a major priority, Claflin University closed at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 10, 2018. All classes and activities are canceled until further notice.
Claflin University has partnered with South Carolina State University to provide shelter in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center on the campus of South Carolina State University for students who are unable to leave campus. When directed, it will be mandatory for students to relocate to the shelter in University-provided transportation. No student will be allowed to remain in the residence halls. Meals will be provided at the shelter.
Claflin University Residential Life Coordinators will be on-hand to answer questions in case of emergencies. If you have any questions regarding residential life, please call (803) 535-5651.
Updates will be sent by email, posted on social media, and sent through the emergency text messaging service ( to alert the campus family of when the University will reopen and when classes will resume. You may also follow local media reports or  connect with the Hurricane Florence Statewide Hotline at (866) 246-0133.
For general information and updates, please call the Claflin University Information Line at (803) 535-5243 or visit To reach Claflin University's Public Safety Office, please call (803) 535-5444.
Claflin University Ranked Among Top 10 HBCUs for Eighth Consecutive Year by U.S. News and World Report
Claflin University's distinguished reputation for academic excellence and developing a diverse and inclusive community of globally engaged visionary leaders continues to earn the University national recognition. U.S. News and World Report  placed Claflin seventh on its 2019 ranking of the nation's top 20 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Claflin moved up two places after being ranked ninth last year. The announcement marks the eighth consecutive year that the prestigious publication has ranked Claflin among the Top 10 institutions. Claflin is also one of only four South Carolina universities/colleges and one of only four HBCUs ranked by U.S. News as being the "Best National Liberal Arts Institutions.

HBCUs listed in U.S. News and World Report  are compared only with each other for these rankings. In order to be on the list, a school must be currently designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an HBCU. To qualify for U.S. News  rankings, an HBCU also must be an undergraduate baccalaureate-granting institution that enrolls primarily first-year, first-time students and must be a school that is part of the 2019 Best Colleges rankings.

Founded in 1869, Claflin will celebrate its 150th anniversary as the oldest and first HBCU in South Carolina to provide educational opportunities to all students regardless of gender, race, religion, or ethnic origin. Claflin's reputation for producing outstanding STEM graduates received more attention when the Computer Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for  Engineering and Technology (ABET) recently granted accreditation to the University's Computer Science Program, effective retroactively to  October 1, 2017. Significantly, Claflin is now one of only three private colleges or universities in the state of South Carolina with ABET accreditation. Equally significant, Claflin is among very few UNCF institutions with an ABET-accredited computer science program.

In total, 80 HBCUs were eligible to be included on the U.S. News list; 76 of those were ranked, and four were unranked. The U.S. News rankings system rests on two pillars: quantitative and qualitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and U.S. News' view of what matters in education. The indicators used to capture academic quality fall into six categories: outcome measures, assessment by administrators at peer HBCUs, faculty resources, financial resources, student excellence and alumni giving. The indicators include input measures that reflect a school's student body, its faculty and its financial resources, along with outcome measures - such as graduation rates and first-year student retention rates - that signal how well the institution educates students.
Click here for the complete U.S. News and World Report ranking of HBCUs.
Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale  Places Focus on Traditions, Celebrations and Transitions During 2018 Matriculation Day Convocation Speech

Dr. Henry N. Tisdale's keynote message during Claflin University's 150th Matriculation Day Convocation on September 6 in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center was a historic reflection of the institution's proud legacy as South Carolina's first and oldest HBCU (historically black college/university). It provided an introspective look at the distinctive hallmarks that have contributed to raising Claflin's profile on the landscape of higher education -  the university's emphasis on academic excellence and its reputation for developing a diverse and inclusive community of globally engaged visionary leaders.

The Matriculation Day Convocation is one of several time-honored traditions at Claflin. The program is followed by the ceremonial ringing of James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel bells, which officially signals the start of the new academic year. 

"On this occasion, I want to call our attention to traditions, celebrations and transitions," Tisdale said. We have traditions that make Claflin - 'On a Hilltop High' - a very special place. This includes singing the Alma Mater, Parting Ceremony, CALA-bash, Homecoming, Baccalaureate Worship Service, Homecoming, Founders' Day, Commencement, and others."

Tisdale pointed out that on October 23, 1869, the city of Orangeburg, the state of South Carolina, and the nation witnessed the birth of Claflin University which opened the first doors of higher education to African Americans in this state on that historic date.

"After that, Dr. Alonzo Webster, Claflin's first president, concluded that all was in a state of readiness and directed that the school bells be sounded to signal the commencement of educational activities at the newly established university," said Tisdale. "Here we are to continue that tradition and to officially begin the 150th opening of the university. This is not just a tradition. We are part of a noble experiment that began in 1866 as Baker Theological Institute in Charleston S.C. and moved to a new level as a degree granting university in 1869 in Orangeburg with the name Claflin University. I feel fully blessed and fortunate to join the pantheon of the seven other Claflin presidents. It's an honor I never take lightly," said Tisdale. 

Tisdale referenced Claflin's 150th Anniversary when enumerating that several noteworthy achievements would be recognized during the upcoming academic year.
"This is indeed a year of celebrations and we have much to celebrate particularly over the past two decades," said Tisdale. Claflin University has experienced greater success, progress and indeed transformation during this period. This year we will celebrate the University's 150th anniversary and we expect great news when U.S News and World Report announces its rankings of the nation's top colleges and universities. We already know this will be good news," he said. 

Tisdale was providing advance notice that Claflin would be ranked among the prestigious publication's Top 10 HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Claflin is also one of only four South Carolina universities/colleges and one of only four HBCUs ranked by U.S. News as being the "Best National Liberal Arts Institutions.

"Let's celebrate academic excellence which is our flagship, said Tisdale. "Most recently, our computer science program received ABET ( Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation . It's a mark of excellence that we now have an impressive number of nationally-accredited programs, including business, chemistry, education, music, and others. This places Claflin in a special class. Our goal is pursue national accreditation for all of our academic programs." 

Tisdale acknowledged the success of Claflin's men's basketball team which captured the SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.  "We also celebrate athletics which experienced a phenomenal year," he said.

"Our new expanded Health and Wellness Complex is another reason to celebrate. This facility will bring the University new opportunities for student activities and increase our capacity to attract more resources for our athletic and academic programs in terms of health and wellness for the Orangeburg community."  The Health and Wellness Complex is scheduled to open in October 2018.
"This will be known also as a year of transition at Claflin," said Tisdale as he proceeded to the final point of his message. "The Class of 2022 -  you are in transition and we have a special support program, 'Panther STEPS,' that was designed to help you through this period." Tisdale said that STEPS is an acronym for Students in Transition Engaged and Pursuing Success.  

"Usually during transitions of leadership and changes there is an emphasis on the first 100 days," Tisdale said. "It has also been concluded that presidents are most vulnerable during the first 100 days because they are in the process of learning what is necessary to have a successful presidency.  To the class of 2022, you are in your first 100 days. You are most powerful and privileged because of all the resources and support available to ensure your success. But you are also most vulnerable because you have so much to learn.  And, one of the best ways to learn is to listen. You must listen to learn and you must also learn to listen to others have something valuable to say that may contribute to your success."

Tisdale also had a message for students in the Class of 2019.  "Seniors you are in transition too," said Tisdale. "This is your last year before your transition into the real world.  We hope that as you transition, you will utilize and take advantage of your Claflin experience. "We hope that when you leave this place you will be highly competent, competitive, intellectually curious and thirsting for knowledge. We want to you to graduate indoctrinated with a sense of civility and endowed with the 'Claflin Confidence.' It will serve you well." 

Tisdale reminded the audience that effective July 1 2018, the athletic program became a member of the CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and were no longer competing in the SIAC. However, it was his closing remarks regarding his own transition, which drew noticeable reactions from the capacity crowd.

Tisdale announced his plans to retire last April, effective June 30, 2019, after providing exceptional visionary leadership for 25 years as Claflin's eighth president.

"The First Lady and I are also in transition," he said referencing his wife, Alice Carson Tisdale, who serves as director of the Honors College at Claflin which bears her name. "For more than two decades Alice and I have had the opportunity and the privilege of serving at this very special intuition. When I accepted this position in 1994, I articulated a vision for Claflin to be a premier private liberal arts institution in the southeastern region of the United States and an institution of the highest quality that demonstrates excellence in carrying out its mission of being and doing the best she can with what she has and continuously striving for better."

For the past two decades, the university has experienced phenomenal transformation. Because of our collective work, a strong foundation has endured to ensure the future," he said. "The next leader coming forth will be capable of catapulting the university to new spheres of excellence. I can honestly say that each day has been a relentless pursuit of excellence. And each day, the First Lady and I have given Claflin University our best. For the final year of our transition, I commit to keeping the university moving forward and on its upward trajectory towards being recognized as a leading 21st century institution of higher education."
Other highlights of the convocation included the swearing in ceremony CU Student Government Association (SGA) President Kayla Hodges and members of her cabinet. The SGA presented Tisdale with a customized blanket with an imprint of his image. The event also featured musical selections by Claflin's concert and gospel choirs.
Claflin Junior Named a White House Initiative HBCU Competitiveness Scholar 
Sebrena M. Brink has been named a 2018 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar. She is one of 63 students from 54 HBCUs selected by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities for this recognition. Brink is a biology and psychology major from Spartanburg, S.C. 

Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for successfully preparing to compete for top opportunities that improve long-term outcomes. Each student was nominated and endorsed by their institution president. They were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students and chosen based on their academic achievement, campus and civic involvement, and entrepreneurial ethos or "go-getter" spirit.

Competitiveness Scholars will assemble September 16-18 at the 2018 National HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C. Competitiveness Scholars will receive their recognition during the conference on September 17, at the Initiative's Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards. During this national convening the scholars will also participate in workshops designed to improve leadership, encourage ongoing personal and professional development, and discover areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. As the embodiment of unique competitive advantages HBCUs provide students, Competitiveness Scholars are afforded opportunities to highlight their exceptional contributions to institutions, ignite new passions and explore ideas critical to lifelong growth and development.

Competitiveness Scholars are recognized for the 2018-2019 academic school year. In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars will learn and share proven and promising practices that support individual and HBCU competitiveness, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success. Throughout this period, the Initiative will provide outreach and engagement activities, as well as information and resources that can be disseminated to fellow students. They are expected to fully take advantage of the opportunities provided, engage with one another and showcase individual and collective talents across the HBCU spectrum.
Claflin University to Host Annual UNCF Community Prayer Breakfast
Claflin University will host its 17th annual United Negro College Fund Community Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, October 6, at 9 a.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center at the Tullis Arena. The prayer breakfast is a fundraiser to support scholarships for students at Claflin University.
The Rev. Leonard Huggins, pastor of the Shady Grove, Trinity and St. Mark United Methodist Churches in St. George, S.C., will be the keynote speaker. The program also includes performances by the Claflin University Gospel Choir D.R.E.A.M. and The Community Prayer Breakfast Ministers' Choir. 
Admission is $250 per table (10 seats) and $15 for individual tickets. The deadline to purchase tickets is Friday, September 28. 
For more information and to purchase tickets call (803) 535-5722.

Alumni News
Former Claflin University track athlete Trisana Fairweather, '18, has been named a Top 30 honoree for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service, and leadership.

Selected from a record 581 school nominees - a group that was then narrowed to 154 nominees by conference offices - the Top 30 honorees include 10 from each of the three NCAA divisions. All have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. The honorees competed in 13 sports and studied a broad range of academic majors, including finance, biochemistry, microbiology, kinesiology, nursing and communication.

In 2016, Fairweather was the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Champion in the 200 meters and was named the Claflin University Female Athlete of the Year, as well as the institution's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The selection committee will announce the nine finalists, including three women from each NCAA division, in early October. From those finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year. The Top 30 will be celebrated and the Woman of the Year will be named Oct. 28 at a ceremony in Indianapolis.

Freya Sullivan Huffman, '95, has been invited to attend the Congressional Black Caucus 2018 Author's Pavilion to represent her book, Pray Before You Vote! While at the Caucus, she will also serve on a panel discussion on the topic of faith and politics. The Congregational Black Caucus is taking place in Washington, D.C. on September 12 through 16. Huffman is the founder of  The Teknowlogy Factory, a career coaching, technology training and content development firm. She has also served as an adjunct professor for the past 10 years in the areas of mathematics, business, information technology, communications and sales.   
Panther Pride
Claflin Volleyball Home Match with Francis Marion University Postponed

Due to the predicted weather associated with Hurricane Florence, the Claflin University volleyball home match with Francis Marion scheduled for Friday, September 14, has been postponed.  An alternate date has not been set.
A decision about the September 16 match at Saint Augustine University will be determined at a later date.
Once determined, the new date and time for the Francis Marion contest will be added to the Claflin University volleyball schedule located on the Claflin University athletics page at

Claflin Baseball Prospect Camp Postponed

Due to the predicted weather associated with Hurricane Florence, the Claflin University Baseball Prospect Camp scheduled for Saturday, September 15, has been postponed.  An alternate date has not been set.
Once determined, the new date and time for the camp will be added the Claflin University baseball page on the Claflin University athletics page at
September 12, 2018
In This Issue
Calendar of Events
Connect with Us
@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, '65
Vice President for Institutional Advancement: Rev. Whittaker V. Middleton, '73
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
Public Relations Director: J. Craig Cotton
Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Sports Information Director: Romanda Noble-Watson
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07