The World Needs Visionaries
Watch the 150th Matriculation Day Convocation 

Claflin University will host its 150th Matriculation Day Convocation at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 6 in the Edward L. Tullis Arena at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center. The Matriculation Day Convocation symbolizes the official opening of the new school year. All students, faculty and staff participate and the general public are also invited to attend.

You can watch the 150th Matriculation Day Convocation service live on September 6 at 11 a.m. by clicking here

Spencer and Reverend Minnie Anderson Establish Endowed Scholarship for Biology Majors at Claflin

When Spencer and Reverend Minnie Anderson decided to establish an endowed scholarship at Claflin University to honor the memory of their two sons, Michael Cutler and the Rev. Dr. Otis Cutler Jr., who died 28 days apart, they were guided by several significant reasons. First, they wanted to create a purposeful and enduring symbol of their sons' compassion for others and their commitment to improving the lives of everyone around them. Second, the endowment also reflects their support of academic achievement and dedication to community service. A third reason was for the scholarship to serve as a tribute in honor of their third son, Mark Cutler, a branch manager at BB&T in Beaufort, S.C.

The Spencer and Rev. Minnie Anderson Endowed Scholarship Fund was created with the Anderson's gift of $20,000 to Claflin University. A scholarship will be awarded annually to a student from the state of South Carolina majoring in biology who maintains at minimum 3.3 grade point average. The Andersons are hopeful that the recipient will continue their education in medical school or participate in research that will contribute to finding a cure for terminal illnesses.

"Both Spencer and I believe science, research and preparing students for STEM careers is very important," said Minnie Anderson. "This endowed scholarship helps preserve our memories of Michael and Otis and helps us to move forward in a meaningful way. The scholarship will also bring increased awareness for research and address health-related issues."

The Anderson's endowment aligns with President Henry N. Tisdale's goal to increase funding for scholarships during his final year as the University's transformative and visionary leader. Tisdale announced last spring that he will retire on June 30, 2019, after 25 years as Claflin's eighth president.

"We thank you and your family for your commitment to Claflin," said Tisdale during the check presentation. "I am committed to increasing scholarships and endowments in my final year because we need more endowments and scholarships to recruit outstanding students and help them remain in school." 

The Andersons had traveled to Maryland for Christmas to see Otis who was hospitalized for a rare form of brain cancer. Michael, a 48-year-old fire protection engineer who resided in San Jose, California, also planned to join them but suffered a pulmonary embolism and died on December 22 in his home.

"Michael and his son, Christopher were reviewing blueprints," said Spencer, a 1999 Claflin graduate who presently serves as the interim director of auxiliary services at Claflin. "His death was sudden and very unexpected."

Christopher who worked closely with his father has inherited the family business, Innovative Technologies.  Minnie said that Michael had visited every continent but Antarctica. He was a single parent and he launched two non-profit organizations to benefit other single parents. He also had a special affinity for HBCU's.

"Michael graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's in fire protection engineering," said Minnie, who has a bachelor's from the University of Baltimore. She also earned a master's from Liberty University and is matriculating a master's at Asbury Theological Seminary. "I did not graduate from Claflin but I feel as if they have adopted me." 

Otis died on January 19, 2018. He was the senior pastor at Rebirth Ministries in Baltimore, Md. He also served as a lobbyist where he fought for economic equality for minority communities. He was a graduate of Morgan State University where he earned a bachelor's in philosophy. Otis received a master's degree from Howard University School of Divinity in religious studies, he also earned a doctoral degree in leadership from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

Otis attended school with the late S.C. Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine people killed in 2015 at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

"After Spencer and I were united in holy matrimony we talked about having a purpose for our marriage and this scholarship fulfills this desire," said Rev. Minnie Anderson.

Mark continues to carry out the vision of he and his brothers in helping to prepare young people for future endeavors. 

"This scholarship to Claflin University exemplifies our family's commitment to help young people achieve their goals," said Rev. Minnie Anderson.

The endowment forever unites the Anderson family through the support they are providing for Claflin students and the University's emphasis on producing outstanding STEM graduates.
The Andersons stated, "We are hopeful that our contribution will inspire other alumni and Claflin supporters to establish or contribute to existing endowments."

"Claflin Comes to Town" Scholarship Fundraiser Scheduled for September 20 in Charleston

Claflin University is taking its "Claflin Comes To Town" fundraiser reception to a place of historic significance: Charleston, S.C. on Thursday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church (446 Meeting Street).  The reception is held for the benefit of The FOCUS100 Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance for deserving students.
"A large number of students and alumni are from the Charleston area and Claflin's history is deeply tied to the city, as well," Claflin University President Henry N. Tisdale said. "Claflin was founded in 1869 and its first president was Dr. Alonzo Webster,  a prominent Methodist minister and a teacher at the Baker Theological Institute which was founded in 1866 in Charleston. In 1870, Baker Theological Institute merged with Claflin University," he said.
President Tisdale will discuss the impact and importance of FOCUS100 Scholarships at the reception as part of his "Envisioning Excellence Farewell Tour." Tisdale, who has provided visionary leadership at Claflin for 25 years, announced last spring that he will retire on June 30, 2019. Tisdale has stated that increasing funds for FOCUS100 and other scholarship program are among his top priorities.
Established in 2004 by the Claflin University Board of Visitors, the FOCUS100 Scholarship Fund has been a major source of support toward helping students fulfill their dreams of graduating from Claflin University.  The Board of Visitors has set a fundraising goal of  $1 million for this year.  The scholarships offer supplemental support for students who experience an unexpected financial crisis, such as a family or health related emergency, that may cause them to withdraw from school without earning a degree.  FOCUS100 Scholarships have contributed to the marked increase in the retention rate for first-year students during the past decade. 

To RSVP for "Clafin Comes To Town," please contact Tammy McCottry by Friday September 14, at  or (803) 535-5665.

Faculty and Staff News
On September 6, Dr. Cheryl A. Swanier will serve as the guest speaker for The Ohio State University's Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Swanier's topic is "Women in Computing."  Dr. Swanier is chair of Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences,  an a ssociate professor of computer science, and the Henry N. and Alice Carson Tisdale Endowed Professor.  She conducts research in human computer interaction with an  emphasis in visual programming and educational gaming. Dr. Swanier has  been recognized as a "Power 100" influential  African American by Ebony Magazine.

Welcome to Ms. Mellissa Williams, who is the new associate vice provost for research at Claflin University. Williams has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Hampton University and a master's degree in research administration from Johns Hopkins University. She has grants and sponsored programs experience in city government (New York) and at universities (Yeshiva University, New York University, The Citadel, Johns Hopkins University, and most recently at the University of South Carolina).

Alumni News
Barry White Jr., '14, is featured with other educators in a national  commercial  produced by Lysol. The  commercial thanks teachers for the  impact they have on children. White is known for the viral video that shows him starting the school day with a line of students - and with every one, doing a memorized, and unique handshake. Click here to view the commercial. 

Cecil J. Williams, '60, is one of  four people who will be honored with the 2018 Governor's Award in the Humanities on October 25, 2018, at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center in Columbia, S.C.   Williams is a photographer, publisher, author and inventor best known for his photography documenting the C ivil Rights Movement  in  South Carolina  beginning in the 1950s. Tickets  for the event may be purchased at

August 29, 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