The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin Receives Approval for the Master of Science in Nursing Program

It was not long after Claflin University launched its RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2016, that Dr. Shannon Smith believed a master's program in nursing was also possible.
"I had a vision for the program when I first arrived and it became part of the five-year strategic plan I developed in 2017," said Smith, associate professor and chair of Claflin's Department of Nursing.
Smith's vision for the future of Claflin's nursing program became a reality when the University was recently notified that its proposal to establish the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program had been approved by the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
All classes will be offered online except for on-site clinical practicums that will be required each semester. The program is scheduled to begin during the 2021 Fall Semester. Claflin will be the only historically black college/university (HBCU) in the state of South Carolina to offer a bachelor's and master's degree in nursing. The target audience will be graduates of Claflin's RN to BSN program and other nursing professionals - throughout the United States and abroad - with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree who want to advance their careers through Claflin's innovative and student-centered curriculum.
Claflin has partnerships with several hospitals, including The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg and Prisma Health, which has several sites in South Carolina. Claflin also has a partnership with the South Carolina Technical College System that offers a seamless transfer to Claflin for registered nurses who have earned an associate degree from any one of the system's 16 schools. Claflin will aggressively market and promote the MSN program in South Carolina and beyond as a participant in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) which allows the University to promote and market its online programs in states outside of South Carolina.
"I applaud Dr. Smith, Dr. Zia Hasan, vice president for planning, assessment and information services, Dr. Karl Wright, provost/chief academic officer, and other members of the accreditation committee who worked tirelessly to secure SACSCOC approval for establishing the Master of Science in Nursing program at Claflin University," President Dwaun Warmack said. "The MSN program represents another historic milestone in the University's proud history. The success of our master's and bachelor's degree nursing programs will position Claflin among the leaders in developing and implementing solutions to the health care needs of residents of Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun counties and other rural communities."
Claflin's master's and bachelor's degree nursing programs are consistent with the University's academic mission of providing a student-centered, liberal arts education grounded in cutting-edge research, experiential learning, state-of-the-art technology, community service, and life-long personal and professional fulfillment. The nursing department aligns with Claflin's commitment to improving the lives of residents in the communities it serves and the UNCF-Carolina Cluster Career Pathway (CPI) Initiative which focuses on preparing graduates for the 21st Century workforce. It also addresses the national shortage of qualified nurses. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data projects the demand for nursing professionals to grow by 17 percent between 2018-2028.
"The master's in nursing program at Claflin will be a viable resource for achieving health equity in Orangeburg and the neighboring counties," said Smith, whose combined experiences in nursing and higher education span more than 30 years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Adult Health Nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing.
"Orangeburg is such a large and spacious county that residents in these rural areas do not have access to high-quality health care," Smith said. "We realize that Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun counties have the lowest rankings in health outcomes among South Carolina's 46 counties. Residents of these communities have benefited significantly from the support provided by our RN to BSN students."
Nursing students from Claflin routinely participate in community health fairs to promote and help improve health outcomes for area residents. As part of the degree program, students are required to develop and implement a community project. 
"One exciting example of our connection to the community occurred when a student developed a project that focused on improving exercise, nutrition, and stress management in one of the local communities," Smith said. "She persuaded a group of volunteer firefighters to serve as role models and help articulate how healthy lifestyles improve the quality of life. The student made presentations to schools, churches, and several non-profit organizations about shopping for nutritious foods and how they were delivered to rural neighborhoods. "The firefighters were happy because they shed a few pounds and residents of the community learned valuable lessons about food and nutrition."
Smith believes that when the MSN program begins, their community engagement will increase and have a greater impact.
"Students at the graduate level have more intensive and specialized training and a deeper foundation of knowledge," she said. "This will allow us to expand our outreach and be more strategic in those targeted communities."
Most of the BSN graduates are from South Carolina and the Orangeburg area. They are working at local clinics, hospitals, specialized care centers, and other healthcare facilities. However, several are working outside the area due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We have Claflin nurses on the frontline," said Smith who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of South Carolina. "Some are in locations that have high COVID-19 infection rates but a shortage of nurses. 
They are working in high-demand environments at very competitive salaries due to the shortage of qualified nurses. But they are facing intense pressure to provide high-quality patient care while protecting themselves and their families from Covid-19."
In addition to the SACSCOC approval of the MSN program, the RN to BSN program received accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Board of Commissioners through 2024. The program also received the 2019 Nursing Program of the Year at the HBCU Awards Ceremony. Claflin conferred 25 degrees to BSN graduates in July 2020 and the program held its sixth pinning ceremony in December 2019 as 15 graduates earned bachelor's degrees and received their nursing pins. Claflin has graduated more than 80 students from its RN to BSN program since the program started four years ago.
"I knew that Claflin was destined for greatness because of the family atmosphere," Smith said. "However, I had no idea that our success would unfold this way.
We have an excellent support system in the university's administration and top-notch faculty who support our students wholeheartedly. President Warmack and Provost Wright have given us outstanding support and a vision to be the best."
When asked about her priorities for the coming year, Smith said she wants to establish more community partnerships which will increase student engagement with population health that focuses on health outcomes for a group or individuals that share a geographical location and is geared towards creating equity in health care delivery.  
"We have opportunities to receive funding from grants that will help us offer additional services to the community through the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex and other collaborative partnerships. I believe that the sky is the limit!"

Claflin University Mathematics and Computer Science Department Receives a $700,000 Subaward 

Claflin University Mathematics and Computer Science Department received a $700,000 subaward from the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization Sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration US Department of Energy. This subaward is being administered over five years. Dr. Karina Liles, assistant professor of Computer Science and director of the Social Technologies and Robotics (STAR) Lab is the principle investigator. 
Claflin University's primary goal for the five-year grant period is to prepare undergraduate students to fill diverse advanced education, research, and career opportunities. To achieve this, the program will focus on three primary approaches: (1) outreach and recruitment, (2) education and training, and (3) engagement and retention. Funds from the grant will also be used for scholarship awards to computer science and computer engineering majors during the grant period.
"We are grateful for this award which will have a lasting impact to our students and Mathematics and Computer Science Department," said Liles. "We thank the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization and the National Nuclear Security Administration US Department of Energy who helped make this possible."

Faculty News

Dr. Omar Bagasra, professor and director of the SC Center for Biotechnology, is a grant recipient of the Developmental Research Program (DRP) of South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE). DRP awards support independent research programs and, in the process, provide research training to students and/or postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences. Dr. Bagasra was awarded $50,000 for one year, renewable for a second year upon favorable review of the progress report by SC INBRE's External Advisory Committee.
With the grant, Dr. Bagasra and his team will develop a unique cancer killing bacteria that can only bind to XAGE-1b and selectively kill this type of lung cancer. The bacteria he plans to develop will have no adverse effect on the human body and will only target non-small cell lung carcinoma. This type of therapy, called oncolytic bug therapy, is unique and may have a much broader implication for treating other cancers. For this particular type of lung cancer, the therapeutic bugs will be directly delivered into the lung cancer and directly target the lung cancer cells that show XAGE-1b protein on their cell surface.   
Alumni News

Uva Coles, '93, is president and CEO of Inclusiva, a boutique consulting firm focused on designing inclusive workforce solutions. She has more than 25 years of experience developing inclusive workforce solutions to address organizational needs in an ever-evolving global landscape. Coles' most recent honors and awards include the 2019 Al Dia News Hispanic Heritage Award in Education, the 2018 Urban Affairs Coalition Friend Award, and the 2018 Social Innovations Award for her leadership in leveraging education as a poverty disruptor in underserved communities. 

Congratulations to Reverend Mack C. McClam, '73who retired on June 30, 2020, after serving for five years as pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, S.C. McClam was an elder in full connection in the South Carolina Annual Conference and his life in ministry spanned more than four decades. McClam's passion for ministry and preaching is clearly illustrated by the numerous awards and accolades he received during his years of service. McClam held several leadership positions within The United Methodist Church throughout South Carolina. He served at the district and annual conference levels and in the communities where he lived. McClam was also an adjunct professor in religion at Erskine Theological Seminary and the Interdenominational Theological Center Certificate in Theology Program in the Ridgeville community.

Former Claflin University track and field standout Faith McKie, '20, has been selected to represent the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) for the NCAA Women of the Year Award. McKie is one-of-two student-athletes chosen from the CIAA nine nominees. From a program-record pool of 605 school nominees, 161 college athletes have been named conference-level nominees for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The nominees represent student-athletes from 21 different sports spanning all three NCAA divisions. Of those nominated, 59 nominees competed in Division I, 39 in Division II and 63 in Division III. The Woman of the Year Selection Committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will now choose the Top 30 honorees - 10 from each division - from the conference-level nominees. The Top 30 honorees will be announced in September. From there, the selection committee will narrow the pool to three finalists from each division. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2020 Woman of the Year from the nine finalists. The Top 30 honorees will be celebrated, and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year will be named this fall.

Janelle Sistrunk Mitchell, '77was reappointed to the State of South Carolina Real Estate Commission for a second term. The Real Estate Commission regulates real estate brokers, salespersons, property managers, and administers the registration of timeshare projects and out-of-state subdivided land sales marketed in the State of South Carolina.

Barry White Jr., '14was appointed dean of students at the University Park Creative Arts School in Charlotte, N.C. University Park is a K-5 full magnet school that offers visual and performing arts programs. The school was named a Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America in 2008.

August 19, 2020
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@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement: Marcus H. Burgess, '96
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
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Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Sports Information Director: Romanda Noble-Watson
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07