May 13, 2022
The World Needs Visionaries
Former Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin Offers Encouragement and Wisdom to Claflin University Spring Class of 2022 Graduates
Claflin’s Spring 2022 Commencement Convocation was a celebration of the University’s scholars and world-class faculty. More than 290 graduates were conferred bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at 10 a.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex.

“In each of you is the power to change the world,” said former Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, who delivered the keynote address. “Dream big, stay focused, and use your time wisely. Don’t lose sight of what is important. You have an incredible responsibility to your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and ancestors. Use the talents and the gifts God has given you. Leave this world better than you found it.”

Benjamin was elected Mayor of Columbia in April of 2010 with a vision of transforming South Carolina’s capital city into a talented, educated, and entrepreneurial city of the New South. He served as mayor until December of 2021. He currently serves as President & CEO of The Benjamin Firm, LLC. Benjamin served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2018-2019), President of the African American Mayors Association, and Vice-Chairman of the Global Parliament of Mayors.

“This class is not like any other,” Benjamin said. “You lived through the greatest pandemic since 1918, the greatest turmoil in the economy and an election since 1932, and the greatest social unrest since 1968. But you thrived, and you are still thriving.”

Benjamin cited Sarah Mae Flemming, a black woman from the Eastover, S.C., who challenged a Jim Crow segregation law in 1954. She was physically assaulted after taking a seat in a section reserved for white passengers while riding a bus in Columbia, S.C. Flemming sued the bus company, and months later, Rosa Parks experienced a similar injustice that led to the Montgomery Boycott in Alabama. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional.

“Flemming was not looking for a fight, a cause, or history. But history found Flemming, and she chose to act,” said Benjamin, a graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He served as President of the Student Government and President of the Student Bar Association.

“Focus on solving the vexing problems that face us today,” he said. “Leadership requires you to act. Activism without action is just a conversation. The world needs your thoughtful and intelligent brand of leadership right now. An extraordinary life awaits you, like Fleming - history has found you.”

Special presentations included President Emeritus Dr. Henry N. Tisdale receiving an Honorary Doctor of Science degree. Dr. Samina Assanie-Shivji was selected for the Attorney William H. and Annette B. Johnson Endowed Faculty Award for Innovative Scientific Research.

Tisdale, a 1965 honors graduate at Claflin, was recognized for his exceptional visionary leadership while serving for 25 years as the University’s eighth president. Dr. Assanie-Shivji is an associate professor in the Department of Biology.

The Top Honors Graduates were seniors Amariya Ayee and Macvincent S. Agha S.-Oko. Both students had 4.0 cumulative grade point averages. Ayee is a biology major from Columbia, S.C., and Agha-Oko is a computer engineering major from Orangeburg, S.C. Four other seniors also had 4.0 GPAs.

Skye Giovanni Samuel-Williams, who passed away during the Fall 2021 Semester, received the Bachelor of Science degree in computer science posthumously. His mother, Letitia Samuel, and his brother, DonShae M. Samuel-Wiggins, participated in the presentation.

“From the day you attended your first class, you became a member of the Claflin University Family. But today is special – you will become a graduate,” said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack to the Spring Class of 2022.

“For many of you, this is history as you are the first in your family to graduate from college. But for others, you are part of a long Claflin heritage – you have others in your family who have graduated from Claflin University. But today is your day. This is the day that makes you special - and we are celebrating you.”
Warmack told the audience that Claflin had come a long way in 153 years. But it still has a long way to go.

“Our recent history has been quite remarkable when we consider we did not just survive a pandemic – we thrived in a pandemic,” Warmack said. “And it was because of the dedication, motivation, and commitment to the University by everyone in this room. Students - we are here for you. We want you to not only graduate - but we want to make sure you are gainfully employed after you graduate. Years from now, when you come back, Class of 2022, we want to talk about your accomplishments.”

More than 90 Golden Class graduates from 1971 and 1972 were also honored during the commencement ceremony. Claflin alumni have earned a national reputation for giving back to the University. Claflin’s annual alumni giving percentage is above 40 percent and ranks highest among Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs). The alumni’s generosity was on full display during the commencement weekend as Warmack announced that the Golden Classes had donated a combined total of $352,955 to support several university initiatives.

“Thank you – Golden Classes of 1971 and 1972, for your commitment to Claflin University and for coming back to participate in the Golden Class Weekend,” Warmack said.
In Case You Missed It - 2022 Spring Virtual Baccalaureate Service, Commencement Convocation and Pictures
Have no fear if you were unable to watch the 2022 Virtual Baccalaureate Service or Spring Commencement Convocation! Click below to watch the ceremonies or view pictures:

Claflin University is saddened to announce the passing of Miranda Dantzler-Williams, '22, of Greenpond, S.C.

Miranda, her mother, Stephanie Dantzler, and sister, Shanice Dantzler-Williams, were tragically killed in a car accident on Sunday, May 8, 2022. Her mother and sister also attended Claflin’s Commencement Convocation last Saturday.

"Claflin mourns the loss of Miranda, her mother, and sister. Miranda was a recent graduate with a bright and promising future," said Claflin President Dwaun J. Warmack. "The Claflin Family offers its sincere condolences, and we will keep the family in our thoughts and prayers."

A celebration of life is being held at Walterboro Christian Center on Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m. You can view the service by clicking here.
We "CU" Ronnie "Tee" Morant, '98, father of NBA Superstar Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzles. Tee donned his "Claflin is my HBCU" t-shirt at a recent Grizzlies vs. the Golden State Warriors game in Memphis during the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Both mother, Jamie Shanks Morant ’99, and dad were student-athletes at Claflin University. Jamie was a member of the Lady Panthers softball team, and “Tee” played on the men’s basketball team.
Claflin Holds Inaugural Student-Athlete Commencement
Claflin celebrated the academic success of its student-athletes at the University’s first-ever Student-Athlete Commencement Convocation on Monday, May 2, 2022, in the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. The ceremony recognized eight student-athletes from the women's softball and men's and women's track and field teams. The student-athletes could not participate in Claflin’s commencement convocation on May 7 due to the CIAA spring sports championships.

“These scholars achieved academic success despite some unique challenges,” said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. “These include intense practices, training sessions, and managing classroom and research assignments while competing in intercollegiate athletics at a highly competitive level.”

More than 130 student-athletes represent Claflin in intercollegiate athletics. Their combined cumulative grade-point average was 3.28 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Our athletes are students first,” Warmack said. “We are very proud of their exceptional performances in the classroom and in athletic competition.”

Click here to view excerpts from student-athletes at the special Commencement Convocation.
+++ Summa Cum Laude
++ Magna Cum Laude
+ Cum Laude
* Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College Student
^ Member of the Softball Team
# Member of the Track and Field Team
Lady Panthers Take a 5-2 Win Over Bowie State to Claim the 2022 CIAA Softball Championship
The Claflin University Lady Panthers (21-13) claimed their first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Softball Championship when the team took a 5-2 win over the Bowie State Bulldogs (25-20-1), on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The Lady Panthers combined some stellar defense with some solid offense to claim the first CIAA championship in school history.
The Lady Panthers saved one of their best defensive efforts of the season for Lady Panthers. The team held the hard-hitting Bowie State Bulldogs to just two runs despite allowing five hits in the game. The Lady Panthers used some small ball to claim the win as none of the team's seven hits were extra base hits. Claflin senior outfielder Camryn Hollis led the way when she went one-for-three at the plate with two runs scored. Junior short stop Jaelyn Jackson added a pair of RBI as well.
It took a while for the Lady Panthers to get things going, but once the team got rolling, they never looked back. The team got things going in the third inning when junior third base Kyra Shuler scored on a BSU fielding error. The Lady Panthers added two more runs when Jackson hit a two-RBI single to leave the Lady Panthers on top, 3-0. The Lady Panthers held on to their 3-0 lead until the fifth inning when they allowed a pair of runs to Bowie State. It was an RBI single followed by an RBI double that cut the Claflin lead down to just one run, 3-2. From there, the Lady Panthers answered in the fifth inning when a Bowie State wild pitch allowed Hollis to score and kept the Lady Panthers on top, 4-2. Claflin added another run in the sixth inning when Howard hit an RBI sacrifice fly ball to score freshman right fielder Kennedy Baskerville. From there, the Lady Panthers turned to their defense to claim the win. It was a double play from third base Kyra Shuler that sealed the victory.
Claflin senior pitcher Bre'Zhay Chambers (10-5) took the pitching victory after earning the start and going all seven innings for the Lady Panthers. She finished the game with two runs allowed (two earned) on five hits with sox strikeouts.
Faculty News
Dr. Luis Almeida, associate professor of mass communications, was selected as a Communicator Award winner by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts under the Photography for Website category - Digital Excellence. With more than 5,000 entries received from across the United States and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. Previous winners of the competition’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence, include Forbes, The Walt Disney Company Europe & Africa, Mattel, State Farm, Philips, T-Mobile, Yes& Agency, Pepsico, and Groove Jones. Visit to view the full winners list.
Panther Pride - Athletics Headlines

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@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement: Dr. Marcus H. Burgess, '96
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
Public Relations Director: J. Craig Cotton
Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Student Writer: Daa'iyah Fogle
Director of Athletic Media Relations: Trevin Q. Goodwin
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07