September 11, 2023

The World Needs Visionaries

Watch the 155th Matriculation Day Convocation Live on Facebook

Claflin University will host its 155th Matriculation Day Convocation at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 12 in the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. The speaker for this event is Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, president and CEO of Virginia Union University. Matriculation Day Convocation symbolizes the official opening of the new school year.

Hakim J. Lucas is the 13th President & CEO of Virginia Union University. He is a strong advocate for student-driven policies and the inclusiveness of students and faculty. He is also a strong believer in the importance and significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and works to ensure their viable sustainability. With more than two decades of experience in higher education, Dr. Lucas’ success includes fundraising, strategic planning, and the engagement and retention of students in challenging educational experiences. 

Dr. Lucas earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, a master’s degree in teaching (History) from Tufts University, an Executive MBA from Stetson University, and a Master of Divinity (Church History) from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University. He earned his doctoral degree in education from Fordham University. He is a transcendent leader who has chosen education as his form of advocating for social justice. As such, he is active with several advisory councils and organizations including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Prince Hall Free Masonry, and 100 Black Men. 

As a leader in the research of HBCUs, Dr. Lucas is the editor-in-chief of a series of publications on HBCUs for Information Age Publishing. He is also a senior research fellow with the Southern Education Foundation. In June 2022, his latest book Modern Heroics: How HBCUs Navigated the COVID-19 Pandemic, was released. The book, co-edited with Dr. Herman J. Felton (Wiley College), shares detailed reflections from 10 HBCU Presidents about how they developed and implemented plans to mitigate and to combat the impact of COVID-19 on their institutions and on African American higher education. 


You can watch the 155th Matriculation Day Convocation live on Facebook on September 12, at 11 a.m. by clicking here. Names Claflin University Among Best American Colleges

Claflin's Elevation and Transformation – bolstered by the University's high-achieving scholars and unprecedented fundraising – have earned the University a place among's 2023 Best Colleges. The rating offers a practical analysis of more than 700 four-year colleges using data in three main categories: quality, affordability, and student outcomes. 


Money's recognition reflects the University's commitment to providing students from diverse cultures access to an exceptional academic experience.

"Our selection as one of Money's 2023 Best Colleges is a tremendous honor," said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. "This is a testament to our steadfast commitment to promoting student achievement through a supportive and inclusive educational environment. It also acknowledges our fundraising success, which allowed us to increase scholarships for talented scholars from economically challenged communities."

The University received a reaffirmation of accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) following a rigorous evaluation of the University's on-campus and online academic programs. SACSCOC is the body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.

U.S. News and World Report has ranked Claflin a Top 10 Historically Black College/University for the past 12 years (2023 ranking statistics). The U.S. News Short List ranked Claflin third among 10 HBCUs with the highest four-year graduation rates among first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2014.

The University is ranked No. 1 in Annual Alumni Giving Percentage for HBCUs and No. 20 in the Top Performers on Social Mobility for successfully advancing social mobility by graduating large proportions of students awarded Pell Grants.

Claflin University to Host Day of Giving to Raise $100K for Student Scholarships

Click here to watch on Facebook (10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m.)

Click here to watch on YouTube (10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m.)

Claflin University to Host Prayer Breakfast to Support Student Scholarships

Claflin University will host its annual United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Ecumenical Day of Prayer Breakfast on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 9 a.m. in the Auxiliary Gym of the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. The prayer breakfast is a fundraiser to support scholarships for Claflin University students. Admission is $50 for individual tickets.

The Reverend Dr. Derrick J. Cattenhead, pastor of the North Orangeburg United Methodist Church, will be the keynote speaker. Cattenhead is from Lake City, S.C., and graduated from Lake City High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina–Columbia, a master's degree in human resource management from Keller Graduate School of Management, a master's degree in divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary at The ITC, and a Doctor of Ministry from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Dr. Cattenhead has served as a mentor in various school systems and other agencies throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He is a United States Navy veteran and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Additionally, he has served as a Board of Trustee and Advisor for several civic and community organizations.   

Dr. Cattenhead has served in various capacities in the United Methodist Church. He was a student pastor at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Timmonsville, S.C., a local pastor at Salem United Methodist Church in Florence, S.C., and an associate pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Florence, S.C.

He is currently the senior pastor at North Orangeburg United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, S.C. He is also the chairperson of Proclamation and Preaching and Parliamentarian on the SCUMC Board of Ordained Ministry and a member of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Dr. Cattenhead is an Ordained Elder in Full Connection in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  

Dr. Cattenhead is married to the former Chasie Latoya McClam, his soulmate and childhood sweetheart. Chasie is a profound certified educator and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. They are the parents of four children: Derrick, Tyler, Jynesis, and Chase. Dr. Cattenhead strongly advocates for initiatives addressing political practices perpetuating poverty, homelessness, social injustice, sexism, and racism. His life mission statement is – "I endeavor to Inspire, Encourage, and Empower ALL people to move towards Godly Living with the help of the Holy Spirit."

To purchase tickets or sponsorships, click here or call (803) 535-5776.

Faculty News

Dr. Nicholas Panasik Jr., associate professor of biology and chemistry, will be a guest panelist at the second annual bioDiversity Summit in Boston, Mass., on September 20, 2023. Sponsored by LabCentral Ignite, the event examines the biotech and STEM education ecosystem around actionable areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) critical to innovation expansion, enhanced community engagement, equitable career opportunities, and inclusive workplace best practices. The panel, titled "Creating Career Onramps from Minority Serving Institutions to Biopharma," will discuss how Claflin University has successfully prepared students for internships and careers in biotech. Dr. Jennifer Nkwankwo '10, founder and CEO of 1910 Genetics, and Anastacia Awad, chief diversity officer at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, will also serve on the panel.

Nkwankwo is a former lab student at Claflin who conducted research under  Panasik’s supervision in protein design. After completing an internship at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, she received a Ph.D. at Tufts University and used LabCentral as an incubator laboratory to develop her multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical company, 1910 Genetics.

Alumni News

South Carolina ETV, the University of South Carolina's Center for Civil Rights History and Research, and The Nick will host a sneak preview of part one of the two-part series, The World of Cecil - a documentary about the life of renowned civil rights photographer, Cecil J. Williams, '60, on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. Using Williams’ photographs as the impetus, the documentary explores many of the lesser-known South Carolina events that were pivotal to the national Civil Rights Movement. Along the way, we learn more about the story behind the multi-talented man of many interests and pursuits.

Austin Reynolds, '22, recently received a grant for more than $1,700  from the South Carolina Arts Commission's Emerging Artists program. This project-based grant also includes career mentoring. "This opportunity will help push forward my work," Reynolds said. "I look forward to mentorship that will grow my artistry/career beyond what I'd ever imagine!"

Panther Pride - Athletics Headlines

Lady Panthers Take a Four-Set Loss at Saint Andrews

Claflin Cross Country Teams Open 2023 Season at CSU Buccaneer Invitational

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@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
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Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60 and Geoff Henderson