When Spencer, '99, 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 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."