July 8, 2021
The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin University Celebrates Opening of New Downtown Center with Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Participants of the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler, President Dwaun J. Warmack, Claflin Trustee Lessie B. Price and Orangeburg City Manager Sidney Evering.
Claflin University’s ambitious goals of providing access to its exceptional academic programs and its commitment to leading the discourse on finding solutions to the disparities and inequities faced by minority populations were on full display Wednesday, June 30, during the official opening of the University’s new Downtown Center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated Claflin’s arrival to the renovated facility on 1425 Russell Street in Orangeburg, S.C.

“When I first met Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler, he expressed his commitment to making sure this city would be a vibrant place to live, work, and play,” said Claflin President Dwaun J. Warmack. “I told him Claflin will play a significant role in this process and today we are taking the first steps.”

The Downtown Center will house the Center for Social Justice and Claflin’s new Center for Global Education, established by a merger of The Center for Professional and Continuing Studies and Claflin Online.

The Center for Social Justice coordinates Claflin’s transformative Pathways From Prison Program. The program is funded by the Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Grant which allows incarcerated individuals to receive federal funding to enroll in postsecondary programs offered by local colleges and universities or distance learning.

“When I think about social justice, I think about four components," Warmack said. “First, healthcare disparities that hit African American communities when COVID-19 manifested, and African Americans were dying at a significantly higher rate than others. I have continued to say that COVID-19 is not racist, but hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other pre-existing conditions are impacting our communities.” 

Warmack stated that as an HBCU (historically black college/university) Claflin needs to lead the research to find solutions to these problems. 

“Secondly, our Center for Social Justice will focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives,” he said. “We will train organizations and corporations and their executives and offer certificates and certification programs for diversity and inclusion. This work has already started.” 

Focus on prison education to break the prison pipeline was Warmack’s third component.  

“We are offering the Second Chance Pell Grant to incarcerated individuals who deserve a second chance at earning a college education,” said Warmack, a 2019 USA Eisenhower Fellow. His research during his fellowship explored global best practices for reducing mass incarceration through education and rehabilitation. Claflin University was the only HBCU in South Carolina among 67 colleges and universities nationwide selected for The Second Chance Pell Grant. Claflin recently launched its first cohort of students participating in this historic initiative.  

In addition to the grant from the Department of Education, Claflin received a $525,000 grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc., a research-based biopharmaceutical company, to support initiatives and programs conducted by the Center for Social Justice.  

Warmack’s agenda for the Center for Social Justice also includes police education. He said the Center will offer certificate and certification programs that will help urban and rural police develop unconscious bias training.  

“We want to make sure that African Americans are part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Warmack said.

The Center for Professional and Continuing Studies (CPCS) and Claflin Online, programs that comprise the Downtown Center’s Global Education Center, are also vital to Warmack’s projections for expanding the University’s academic outreach throughout Orangeburg. The CPCS coordinates enrollment for mostly non-traditional learners enrolled in one of the four accelerated online or on-campus bachelor’s degree programs or one of the five accelerated online or on-campus master’s degree programs. It also collaborates with the Center for Social Justice in implementing the Pathways From Prison Program. 

Claflin Online offers broad access to the University’s exemplary bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and certificate programs in an online educational environment. Claflin Online provides online delivery of four bachelor’s degree programs and four master’s degree programs.

“Our new Center for Global Education will offer everything that will improve the lives of residents in this community, including certificate and certification programs, workforce development training, and small business startups,” Warmack said.

“This is part of the vision we have for downtown Orangeburg. We want to attract more foot traffic downtown and one of the vehicles to do this is through partnerships with the local colleges and universities,” said Butler, a 1983 Claflin graduate. “We want to bring students from behind the walls and out into the city of Orangeburg. We want to look like other cities where local universities have buildings in their downtown areas that bring foot traffic into the city. With Claflin’s Downtown Center, that vision has begun.”

In his closing remarks, Warmack announced that another ribbon-cutting ceremony will be coming soon - Claflin’s Center for Economic and Workforce Development which will provide minority and women’s businesses startup opportunities. He said this center will also be in downtown Orangeburg. 

“This is an exciting time, and we are committed to the city of Orangeburg,” Warmack said. “As I said before, I did not want Claflin to just survive the pandemic, I wanted us to thrive. And this is evidence of the great work that has happened. This is the year for elevation and transformation.”

Click here to watch the ceremony.
Claflin University Hopes to Improve Lives and Communities through Historic Pathways from Prison Program
Claflin University has launched its first cohort of students participating in the transformative Pathways From Prison Program. This historic initiative aligns with Claflin’s commitment to offering access to its exceptional academic programs to all students who value higher education’s positive impact on individuals and communities. Incarcerated individuals in South Carolina prisons are eligible to participate provided they meet the requirements.

“The students are very excited. They appreciate the opportunities provided by Claflin’s Pathways From Prison Program,” said Dr. Vanessa Harris, interim director of the program. She is also the interim director for the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies and an assistant professor in Claflin’s School of Education. “One student said his motivation for being in the program was to prepare himself for career and job opportunities after he is released," Harris said. “His goal is to earn a degree or to at least earn credits toward earning a degree through this program.” 

The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) approved 62 students to participate in the program based on the agency’s qualifications. Claflin offered acceptance to nearly 30 students based on the University’s academic requirements.

“The students are required to complete an application packet like other students applying for admission to Claflin,” Harris said. “We collect their transcripts and make sure they meet our academic requirements which include graduating from high school or earning a General Educational Development (GED) qualification. If they have previous college credits, they must have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.”

The Pathways From Prison Program is funded by the Second Chance Pell Grant Pilot Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The grant provides need-based Federal Pell Grants to individuals incarcerated in federal and state prisons. The grants allow incarcerated individuals to receive federal funding to enroll in postsecondary programs offered by local colleges and universities or distance learning. Claflin University was the only HBCU in South Carolina among 67 colleges and universities nationwide selected for the program.

Students may earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, and organizational management. Additionally, they may also earn minors and certificate credentials.

The program is coordinated by Claflin’s Center for Social Justice through the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies. Claflin was awarded a $525,000 grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc. to support initiatives and programs conducted by the University’s new Center for Social Justice. Gilead, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company.

The current class includes one student who has an associate degree and another with a paralegal degree. Several have earned college credit and high school diplomas.

Harris said students who need assistance with developing college-level academic skills are referred to Healthy Routines, a nonprofit organization that offers non-credit college preparation courses for incarcerated individuals. Claflin received a grant from The Laughing Gull Foundation that pays the fee for transcripts for students who previously attended college. According to Harris, most colleges and universities either waive or lower the transcript fees for students in the program. The Foundation’s grant also helps incarcerated students who have earned a GED with purchasing their transcripts from the SC Department of Education. 

“We are very grateful to the SC Department of Corrections, Healthy Routines, our partners, and other supporters of our Pathways From Prison Program,” Harris said. 

“This program demonstrates our commitment to social justice and it will enable participants to successfully re-enter society and become productive citizens. It speaks volumes for where Claflin is headed with our social justice degree program.”
Claflin Puts Community in Student Center Plan;
Three-story Facility to Include Movie Theater
Claflin University recently announced its plans to build a new facility that will be consistent with Claflin’s elevation and transformation of the campus community and while improving the lives of residents throughout Orangeburg County.
The corner of Magnolia Street and Goff Avenue’s current landscape offers a view of two homes surrounded by trees, bushes, and other plants. However, in 2023, the area will be the site of Claflin’s new Student and Community Center.

Claflin Vice President for Fiscal Affairs Tijuana Hudson said the new facility is another example of why this an exciting time in Claflin's history.

“When we see construction, that always means progress; when we’re building, that always means progress,” Hudson said during a virtual meeting held to announce the new project. 

According to Hudson, groundbreaking for the facility will take place this year. Claflin hopes the construction will be completed and that the facility will be ready for operations in early 2023. 

“You’ll start to notice activity in the area," she said. "The demolition of the properties we purchased for the site of new Student and Community Center will begin next month.”

She cited several features of the facility that reaffirm Claflin’s commitment to playing a prominent role in Orangeburg’s economic development.

“The estimated $23 million project will have three levels, each offering spaces for students and the community,” Hudson said. “On the first floor and through the doors of the covered drop-off, you’ll enter into the food court. We could have four different eateries in this area who will be accessible to students and the community.”

Hudson described the facility as a student center/community center because many of the amenities are open to the community, as well. She added that one of the primary purposes of the center from the University’s perspective is to centralize student services in one location. This includes the campus bookstore, university pantry, and a hair care center. Indoor and outdoor lounge areas are planned for the first floor. The first floor also will provide a form of entertainment that residents and visitors to Orangeburg have done without for far too long. 

“One of the major components of the new center be the auditorium/movie theater,” Hudson said. We are very excited about this because presently, there are no movie theaters in Orangeburg. We envision “Movie Night” for the students, but the auditorium/movie theater will be available to the local community. They will be able to rent the space to show movies or host other events.”

The second floor will be the site for more student services such as the offices for career services, student activities, residential life, student government, online student resource center, and the Paw Print Center.  Residents of the community will be able pay for the printing and copying services provided by the Paw Print Center. Community organizations will also be able to rent space in a media room. The presidential dining room will be another feature of the second floor.  

On the third floor will be a large ballroom, arcade, and, E-sports room. The ballroom will have a seating capacity of 800 guests.

"There’s no other venue in Orangeburg that can seat that many people," Hudson said. The ballroom will be open to community organizations to host events. There will no longer be a need to leave Orangeburg to hold large event. This will fill a big void in the Orangeburg community.”

Hudson said the arcade and E-sports room will provide activities and entertainment for Claflin students. However, these areas will be accessible to students and youth who participate in summer camps and other community outreach programs held on the campus.

Hudson said feedback regarding the project has been positive.

Orangeburg City Councilwoman Dr. Liz Zimmerman Keitt attended the virtual meeting. She expressed excitement for the new project.

“I just would like to really commend Dr. Warmack, the trustees and all the officers who had a part in this, and the alumni. We really appreciate the vision of just knowing that we will have something so attractive,” said Keitt, a 1970 Claflin graduate. [Bradley Harris/Times and Democrat]
Claflin to Auction Super Bowl Items at PAWS UP Golf Classic Reception/Silent Auction and Autograph Session
Claflin University Athletic Director Tony O’Neal displays an autographed Dallas Cowboys football helmet and Super Bowl cap; a basketball and shoes donated by former NBA star Vince Carter; and a Denver Broncos jersey donated by former NFL standout Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. These are among the items that will be auctioned off on Thursday, July 8, at Claflin’s inaugural PAWS UP Reception/Silent Auction and Autograph Session which starts at 7 p.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. 

The reception will feature former NFL players Erik Williams, Chris Canty and Na’Shan Goddard. All three played for teams that won Super Bowls. Williams won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys and Canty captured one with the New York Giants. Goddard won two Super Bowls – one with the Giants and another with the New Orleans Saints.

The reception will be held in conjunction with Claflin’s first ever PAWS UP Golf Classic, that will be played at the Lake Marion Golf Club in Santee, S.C. on Friday, July 9. Both events are fundraisers to increase scholarships and support for other program enhancement initiatives that benefit the Claflin University Athletic program.

Visit alumni.claflin.edu/2021-paws-up-golf-classic or contact Ms. Priscilla Cramer at pcramer@claflin.edu or (803) 535-5504 for tickets or more information.
Faculty News
Dr. Eunjung Choi, associate professor of piano and coordinator of keyboard studies, was awarded a 2021 South Carolina Arts Commission Arts Project Support Grant to make a CD titled “Celebrating Women Composers.” "The project increased my understanding of classical women composers and their musical influences on my professional artistry,” said Choi. The CD represents piano solo works of women composers ranging from the Romantic Period to the Contemporary Period. The selected composers from Dr. Choi’s professional performance journey include Cécile Chaminade, Teresa Carreño, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach.
Alumni News
Dr. Travis Boyce, '02, was featured in a nine-minute interview on KRON4 San Francisco. Dr. Boyce is the chair and associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. The interview, titled "Juneteenth Celebrated as Federal Holiday for the First Time," reflected on the historic background on Juneteenth. Click here to watch the interview.
Congratulations to Dr. James A. Stroman II, ’13, who is the first recipient of the Residency Stipend Award Program from The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, S.C. Stroman will receive $1,000 per month for three years to help cover his expenses while completing his residency training at Spartanburg Regional Hospital in Spartanburg, S.C. He has committed to returning to Orangeburg at the end of his residency to practice family medicine.

The Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center will feature artwork from Tabitha Ott, assistant professor of studio art, and Dr. Leo F. Twiggs, ’56, the first visual artist to receive the Verner Award (Governor’s Trophy) for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. The exhibit, titled “A Fine Hand” will be on display July 14-August 18. It will showcase the works of 16 artists from South Carolina. Click here for more information. 
Would you like to purchase Claflin University items for yourself or as gifts? Proceeds from the items above will support scholarships for the next generation of visionary leaders at Claflin University.

Click here to order today.

If you are paying by check, please make payable to Claflin University. Please put t-shirt size on the memo line. Mail to:

Claflin University
Attn: Marcus Burgess
400 Magnolia Street
Orangeburg, SC 29115

For more information, please call (803) 535-5348.
400 Magnolia Street
Orangeburg, SC 29115 
@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
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07