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, '99, and Reverend Minnie Anderson decided to establish an endowed scholarship at Claflin University  to honor the memory of their two sonsMichael Cutler and the Rev. Dr. Otis Cutler Jr., who  died 28 days apart, they were guided by two 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 is a tribute to their support of academic achievement and dedication to community service. 

The Spencer and 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 majoring in biology from the state of South Carolina 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 help expand the knowledge, treatment, or 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 Rev. 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 addresses 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 to recruit outstanding students and help them remain in school." 

The Andersons traveled to Maryland for Thanksgiving in November 2017 to spend time with their family, including Otis who had undergone several surgeries for a rare form of brain cancer. Michael was also scheduled to make the trip. However, the a 48-year-old electrical engineer suffered a pulmonary embolism. He died on December 22 at his home in San Jose, Calif. 

"Michael and his son Christopher were reviewing blueprints," said Spencer. "His death was sudden and very unexpected." Christopher, who worked closely with his father, has inherited the family business.
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 HBCUs. 

"Michael graduated from the University of Maryland. But he was very supportive of HBCUs," said Minnie, who earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland - Baltimore County. "I did not graduate from Claflin but I feel as if they have adopted me. Establishing the scholarship at Claflin is what he would have wanted."
Otis died on January 19, 2018, less than a month later. He was pastor at Rebirth Ministries in Baltimore, Md., and a graduate of Morgan State University where he earned a bachelor's in philosophy. He received a master's degree from The Howard University School of Divinity in Religious Studies. He earned a doctoral degree in leadership from Wesley Theological Seminary.

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 married we talked about having a purpose other than ourselves," said Minnie.  

The Anderson's have another son, Mark, a branch manager at BB&T in Beaufort, S.C.
"We love helping young people and Michael and Otis did as well. 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.
"We also hope 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