The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin University Opens Fresh Farmers Market

Claflin University hosted its grand opening of its Fresh Farmers Market on Thursday, May 23, outside of the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. The Farmers Market will operate every Thursday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. beginning June 13  until November 21 (excluding holidays).

"We are excited about providing this opportunity to the community," said Tijuana Hudson, vice president for fiscal affairs who is leading this University initiative. "This was a major consideration during our discussion to expand the Jonas T. Kennedy facility.

"The University is serious about promoting and enhancing healthy lifestyles and wellness to our students, faculty and staff as well as our Orangeburg neighbors. The University feels it is the right thing and right time to do it."

The farmers market will be open to the public and provide an abundance of healthy food options. Buyers will be able to purchase various fruits and vegetables, including sweet potatoes, watermelon, cabbage, collard greens, string beans and tomatoes. Herbs and flowers also will be available.
Hudson said the farmers market will be held weekly throughout the summer.

The expansion of Jonas T. Kennedy became a reality with funding support from Orangeburg County Council and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"This will be a tremendous help for our local farmers," Hudson said. "Claflin is delighted to provide this resource for them."
Hudson said the farmers market is sponsored by Panther Health Partners and USDA. 

For more information, contact Tijuana Hudson at (803) 535-5197 or Frances Koon at (803) 463-8872.
Claflin Honors Faculty and Staff at Rewards, Recognition and Retirement Luncheon

In keeping in line with its guiding principle of valuing people, Claflin University hosted its 25th annual Recognition, Rewards and Retirement Luncheon on May 8. The event themed, "25 Years of Shining Superstars," honored the dedicated faculty and staff who served the university during the 2018-2019 academic year. 

President Henry N. Tisdale had a vision to host a rewards luncheon when he became Claflin's eighth president and has seen its growth over the last 25 years. During the silver anniversary of the luncheon, President Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale were celebrated in a different way, as they received their retiree plaques for their 25 years of visionary leadership. Last spring, Tisdale announced his retirement from the university, effective June 30, 2019.

The luncheon not only recognized the Tisdales for their 25 years of service, but those who have been employed for five to 45 year increments. This year, the employee with the highest years of service was Rev. Dr. Whittaker V. Middleton (bottom left), vice president for Institutional Advancement, who was recognized for 45 years of service. The University also recognized other retirees including Carlene Punter (bottom middle), resident life coordinator (13 years of service), and Barbara Raysor (bottom right), administrative assistant (39 years of service).

George Johnson Jr. (bottom left), assistant vice president of communications and marketing, was selected as Administrative Employee of the Year; Leah Cromer (bottom middle), senior employee relations generalist, was selected as Professional Employee of the Year; Lynn Lee-Williams (bottom right) was selected as Administrative Support Employee of the Year; and Leah Cromer also received the Exemplary Customer Service award. Each winner received a financial gift and a certificate of appreciation.

The winner of each award was selected through evaluation of the employee's actions that are consistent with Claflin University's Guiding Principles: Commitment to Excellence, Commitment to Valuing People, Commitment to Being Student Centered, Commitment to Exemplary Educational Programs, and Commitment to Fiscal Accountability.

Faculty members were also honored for their leadership and excellent instruction in the classroom. Dr. Ramaier Sriram, an associate professor of management information systems, received The United Methodist Exemplary Teach Award; and Dr. Deidra Morrison, assistant professor of computer science, received The South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Two other faculty members received honors at the sesquicentennial Commencement Convocation on May 11. The William and Annette Johnson Endowed Faculty Award for Innovative Scientific Research was presented to Dr. Jie Ling, an assistant professor of chemistry. Dr. Abdullah Khan, associate professor of economics, received the James E. Hunter Excellence in Teaching Award for his outstanding performance in teaching and educational development.
Claflin's Golden Class of 1969 Shares Memories and Contributes to Legacy of Alumni Giving During Commencement Weekend

Members of the Class of 1969 returned to Claflin University to participate in their Golden Class Reunion on May 10-11. The highlight of the reunion weekend occurred when the 58 returning graduates were  presented Golden Diplomas during the University's historic sesquicentennial commencement on Saturday, May 11, at the South Atlantic Conference Seventh-day Adventist Convention Center in Orangeburg, S.C. The graduates were also recognized during an annual luncheon on Friday, May 10, hosted by Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale in Ministers' Hall.  Golden Class of 1969 graduates were also treated to breakfast prior to commencement and lunch after the event in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. 
"We started our Golden Class Reunion Weekends in 1987 to promote alumni giving and participation," said Rev. Dr. Whittaker V. Middleton, vice president of institutional advancement at Claflin. "A supportive and engaged alumni guarantees the success of a university. This event is a way of expressing our gratitude for their contributions to Claflin, and we are hopeful it will help to increase major gifts to support scholarships and other critical University initiatives. Our alumni are very proud of their alma mater, and they want to continue to be part of what's happening here."

Claflin is widely-recognized for the generosity of its alumni. U.S. News and World Report Short List ranked Claflin University fifth on its list of the nation's top 10 colleges and universities in alumni giving percentage during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years. During the Class of 1969's reunion weekend, the class donated more than $72,000.
U.S. Army Veteran Overcomes Health Challenges and Personal Struggles to Graduate with Honors at Claflin
After six years on the job and being notified that her request for a promotion was denied, Retis Patricia Moss listened intently to every word the Claflin University recruiter said that day in 2014 when he came to her job at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in Columbia, S.C.

He made a presentation about a partnership Claflin had established with DJJ that offered discounted on-site classes for employees, and promised they could earn a degree in 18 months. Students could major in several areas, including criminal justice or get a master's degree in business administration. The program was specifically designed for busy, working adults who needed flexible class schedules to help them balance family and job responsibilities.

Moss was one of two DJJ employees at the Columbia site who enrolled in the program.  "The timing was unbelievable," she said. "I always wanted to attend college, but I didn't. When I was turned down for a promotion because I didn't have a degree, I decided to enroll at Claflin."

Five years later, Moss, who is 57 years old, received her bachelor's degree in business administration with a minor in computer science at Claflin's historic sesquicentennial commencement on Saturday, May 11.  Moss graduated cum laude with a 3.62 grade point average despite numerous challenges  along the way. She overcame physical abuse, a debilitating illness, and a string of personal tragedies, to achieve her dream of graduating from college.  "I always wanted my degree and now I have it," she said. "I worked for it and now it's mine."

After high school she enlisted in the military, got married and had a child. However, it became an abusive relationship so she left her husband after 10 years. With literally just the t-shirt she was wearing, Moss headed back home to Bethlehem, Pa. She joined the Army Reserves, found a new job, and raised her daughter. She was at peace and comfortable with her situation until the job she had worked for 17 years with the City of Bethlehem ended. Although she was working part-time with the Army Reserves, Moss decided to leave Pennsylvania when her sister jokingly suggested she come South for a "new job and a new husband."
Moss remembered taking a few college classes when she first entered the military, but stopped at her former husband's insistence. She once inquired about using the GI Bill to go to school, but realized those benefits had to be used within 20 years. It was too late for her. After that, she put college in the back of her mind.  She thought she would never get the opportunity to attend college.
That was, until Claflin came calling and Moss was admitted through the Center for Continuing Education. She registered for mostly online classes. However, shortly after Claflin stopped offering classes at DJJ, Moss retired and began taking classes as a full-time student.
Moss had again found stability and was focused on her classwork. She was confident that her career opportunities would be expanded after she earned a college degree, but Moss began to recognize that she was losing weight and feeling physically tired. After a series of tests and doctor appointments, she was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly. Moss was hospitalized and after being released, she moved back to Pennsylvania to live with her adult daughter and grandson. She continued to take classes online but her grades suffered due to reoccurring symptoms of her illness. 
"Math was my biggest problem," Moss said. "I needed the direct interaction with my instructors that online classes did not provide. It was very difficult."  
Moss persevered and once her health improved, she was determined to complete her requirements for a degree, although she was no longer motivated by the possibility of a job promotion. 
"I just didn't want to stop," Moss said. "I knew that if I quit school this time,  I would never return, and I wanted my degree."
So, she packed up her walker, still weak from her illness, and moved back to South Carolina. This time, Moss moved to Orangeburg where she returned to Claflin as a full-time student. She attended classes on campus and her remarkable transformation resulted in her making the Dean's List and joining Toastmasters International, the non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. She was also selected to several honor societies including Alpha Kappa Mu, which recognizes academic excellence in all areas of study; National Society of Leadership and Success, the nation's largest leadership honor society which accepts students based on academic success and leadership potential; and  Entrepreneurial Action, US , a community of student, academic, and business leaders.  She embraced the collegial environment and attended numerous campus events and activities. 
"She was very committed to doing what was necessary to earn her degree," said Mark Roberts,  associate executive director of the Center for Professional & Continuing Studies at Claflin. "She endured illness, relocated several times, and transitioned from an online continuing education student to a full-time traditional student to complete her assignments. She went from using a walker, then progressed to a cane, and now she walks with no assistance at all. It really is amazing what she accomplished."
Now that she has her bachelor's degree, Moss plans to continue her education and get a master's degree. Her desire is to open a non-profit community closet that helps domestic violence victims, especially those released from incarceration after defending themselves from an abusive spouse or intimate partner. 

"Often they are set free wearing the same clothes they wore when they were arrested, and without a supportive family, that's all many of them have. And for others, if the clothes were used for evidence, they are at the mercy of social workers or correctional officers to help them find something to wear."

She also wants to provide clothes for juvenile offenders who have a similar experience after they have been released from detention facilities.  Much of her motivation for this work is her own personal experiences.
"I ran out of the house in the t-shirt I had on and knocked on the first door where there was a light," she said as she recalled escaping an abusive relationship.  "That person let me in, called the police and gave me clothes to wear. I want to help others, just like someone helped me. I want to give back to my community and assist those in need."
Claflin Provides Academic Success for Graduates in DC Achievers Program
From left to right, Zayauna Smith, Qui'Era Evans, (William) Rasheed Gibbs and Michael Tanner

When Zayauna Smith was a senior at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C., she dreamed of attending college. However, she was undecided on where she would continue her education or how to find the resources necessary for tuition and other fees. Smith lives in Ward 7, which comprises some of the District's most economically challenged areas. Despite the recent influx of new, more affluent residents and innovative revitalization projects; Ward 7 continues to be plagued by escalating violence, low employment rates, and underperforming schools.  

"I thought about college, but I was really unsure about where I was going and how I was going to get there," said Smith.  
However, she had a life-changing experience after meeting representatives of the DC Achievers Program. Fast-forward four years later, as Smith and 11 other students from the program were among the graduates who received bachelor's degrees from Claflin University during its historic sesquicentennial commencement on Saturday, May 11.
"When representatives from the DC Achievers Program mentioned 'free money' for college, in their presentation, I knew I had to look into it," said  Smith who earned bachelor's degrees in psychology and political science at Claflin. "It definitely was one of the best decisions I ever made. The program has made a tremendous impact on my life. In addition to providing me and other students on the east side of the (Anacostia) river a college education, I've established some great relationships in the program and at Claflin."

Founded in 2006, the mission of the DC Achievers Program is to improve low college graduation rates of students in Wards 7 and 8 in public and public charter schools. The nonprofit education program provides scholarships that enable students from those districts to attend college. The program also provides tutors, mentors and career counseling assistance. DC Achievers Program is funded by the College Success Foundation through a grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 
Michael Tanner , who earned a bachelor's degree in management, only saw two options when he graduated from Friendship Collegiate Academy before he was introduced to the DC Achievers Program. He could join the military or become a police officer. 

"My mom would say I was getting ready to sign my life away," Tanner said as he thought about his life before enrolling at Claflin. "I've developed a deep love for the University. Claflin has taught me more than just basic values. I've learned about true Claflin leadership."

Tanner credits his decision to attend Claflin to Antonio McFarland, assistant director of admissions at Claflin.  "Mr. McFarland always projects a contagious enthusiasm and passion for the University and the students," Tanner said. "He helped me throughout my four years at Claflin. Earning this degree would have very difficult without his assistance."

Rasheed Gibbs,  another graduate and member of the DC Achievers program, agreed that the invaluable assistance from administrators and faculty at Claflin contributed to his success.  He also expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the DC Achievers Program and the College Success Foundation.

"It's beyond a scholarship," Gibbs said. "The people in this program have been my primary support system since I arrived. They don't just give you money and send you on your way. They really care. If they see you straying from your responsibilities, they will let you know, and bring you back."
All three students took advantage of the myriad opportunities Claflin offers that promote academic, career, and cultural development. Smith was elected Miss Sophomore, Miss Homecoming and Senior Class President while attending Claflin. She also participated in study abroad and spent five months in Dubai.

" My Claflin experiences answered a lot of questions and pointed me in the right direction," said Smith.  "I grew up in Kenilworth, a pretty tough neighborhood. But, I'm extremely invested in my community, I'm extremely supportive of my community, I believe in my people in the community, and I'm proud of where I come from, but I want that to last. I want that same pride for my community that my grandmother gave to my mom, who then gave it to me, so I can give to my future children," Smith said.

Smith already has experience in the DC government through an internship at the Department of Youth Rehabilitation. She is considering returning to take on a full time position. One of her goals is to work with current Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Tanner has interviews lined up with Apple, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Best Buy. His goal is to earn a spot in a leadership development program for recent graduates. 

The list of Claflin graduates in the Class of 2019 from the DC Achievers Program also includes: 
  • Nicholas Ballard (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Psychology major)
  • Jasmine Bourn (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Psychology major)
  • Syriah Carter, Friendship Collegiate Academy, Business Administration major)
  • Dimontre Davis (Ballou High School, Criminal Justice)
  • Qui'Era Evans (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Mass Communications major)
  • Nathaniel Fields (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Business Administration and Mass Communications major)
  • Keiana Joaquin (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Mass Communications major)
  • Emoni King (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Psychology major)
  • Antonio Tolson (Friendship Collegiate Academy, Mass Communications major)
Board of Trustees Spotlight - Lessie B. Price

On April 24, a new senior and youth center opened in Aiken, S.C., in Eustis Park. The center, was named the Lessie B. Price Senior and Youth Center after the longtime councilwoman, Lessie B. Price, who is also the manager of community relations and government affairs at AECOM, an American multinational engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction, and management services to a wide range of clients. City leaders said that Councilwoman Price was an obvious choice to name the building after being at the forefront of a number of significant city initiatives. The building has more than 12,000 square feet recreation and event rental space, a kitchen, computer lounge, and an enrichment classroom. Price has been a member of the Claflin University Board of Trustees since 2013. Her husband, William C. Price, is a member of the Claflin University Class of 1964.  
Faculty and Staff News
Dr. Walter B. Curry, Jr., adjunct professor of education, recently made a presentation highlighting the stories in his book, The Thompson Family: Untold Stories of the Past (1830-1960) at Oconee Academy in Wahalla, S.C. The presentation also included a reenactment that involved the students on the usage of fortifications on James Island during the Civil War. Dr. Curry's ancestor, Lavinia C. Thompson, and her master Samuel G. Webb were both involved.

Dr. Echol Nix, associate professor of philosophy and religion, has joined the editorial board of Crosscurrents: An Interdisciplinary Journal of South Carolina Studies, sponsored by Francis Marion University. The peer-reviewed journal seeks submissions from within and across disciplines including: history, archaeology, literature, political science, art history, religious studies, and sociology.

Romanda Noble-Watson, sports information director, is one of three HBCU media relations specialists recently named Sports Information Director (SID) of the Year by Black College Nines, a baseball news website dedicated to preserving the legacy of Historically Black College and Universities baseball. Noble-Watson is a member of the media coordination team for the NCAA Division I Women's College World Series, member of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Regional Committee (Region III) and serves on the NCAA Stats Advisory Board for volleyball. Noble-Watson previously served as the timeout coordinator for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament (2013 and 2014). She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Black College Sports Information Director Association (BCSIDA), Women Sports Information Directors of America (formerly FAME), and College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), where she is a member of the Special Awards Committee and a mentor in the CoSIDA Mentorship Program.
Alumni News
Dennis Richmond Jr., '17, received a master of science degree in education from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. In September, he will begin teaching at a school in Harlem, NY. Richmond is founder/director of the NYNJ HBCU Initiative, a volunteer project which ensures that students are aware of their higher education options. 
Congratulations to Jayuntay Williams, '11, a math teacher at West Ashley Middle - Advanced Studies Magnet, who was recently named Charleston County School District Teacher of the Year. He  was selected from more than 80 school-based "Teacher of the Year" recipients to help lead the Charleston County School District Teacher of the Year Roundtable during the 2019-2020 school year. He will also receive a one-year lease to drive a BMW courtesy of Rick Hendrick of Charleston. While at Claflin, Williams was a part of the Call Me MiSTER program. 

The Central Savanah River Area Alumni Chapter is sponsoring its annual $10,000 Reverse Raffle on Friday, July 26, at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion. For more information, please contact Dr. Willie L. Frazier, '75, at (706) 399-6105.
Panther Pride
St. Jean and McKnight-Allen Earn All-American Status at the 2019 NCAA DII Outdoor Track and Field Championships

Claflin University sprinters Derick St. Jean and Davion McKnight-Allen  have earned All-American status in their respective events at the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The championships, held May 23-25, in Kingsville, Texas, were hosted by Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
St. Jean (6-1, 180, Fr., Roseau, Dominica) clocked a 47.47 to place fifth in the 400 meters finals on Saturday (May 25).  St. Jean also earned All-American status in the 400 meters at the 2019 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.
McKnight-Allen (5-9, 157, Jr., Florence, SC) ran a 10.47 to place fifth in the 100 meters final on Saturday.
The men's 4x400 meter relay team consisting of Domenic Samuel,  McKnight-Allen, Ashtin Knowles and  St. Jean finished ninth on Friday, May 24, one place shy of reaching the finals.

Dobbs Named Black College Nines' Small School Division Player of the Year

Claflin University junior infielder Gerardic Dobbs  has been named the Black College Nines Small School Division Player of the Year. Dobbs was also named to the First Team. Teammate Clyde Parker  earned Second Team Honors in the Small School Division. The post-season honors were announced Wednesday, May 22.
Black College Nines is a baseball news website dedicated to preserving the legacy of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) baseball. 
The 2019 Black College Nines' Elite Teams consists of 57 players from HBCU baseball programs across the country and are divided into two divisions, Large School Division and Small School Division. 
Selections were made based upon season long statistical information including research provided by both coaching staffs and their sports information directors. Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year awards were voted upon by Black College Nines and members of the national media. MORE

Claflin Men's Track & Field Ranked 26th in USTFCCCA DII Rankings

The Claflin University men's outdoor track and field team is ranked Number 26 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Rating Index announced on Monday, May 20, by the Association. MORE

LaKaylin Lee Selected CIAA Female Scholar Athlete of the Year

Former Claflin University softball standout LaKaylin Lee, '19, was named the CIAA Female Scholar Athlete of the Year at the league's End-of-Year Awards Reception in Baltimore, Md., on Tuesday, May 14. She was also named the 2019 Claflin University Athletics Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business Management, finishing her matriculation at Claflin with a 3.972 grade point average.

Lee was named to the 2019 All-CIAA First Team. She is a 2019 Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Softball All-Atlantic Region Second Team selection and a Google Cloud Academic All-District® Softball Team selection. MORE

Lee, Cato Named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District® Softball Team

Former Claflin University softball players Kayla Cato and LaKaylin Lee have been named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District® Softball Team (District 2). The 2019 Google Cloud Academic All-District Softball Team was announced on Thursday, May 9, via the CoSIDA Website. 
The 2019 Google Cloud Academic All-District® Softball Team, selected by CoSIDA, recognizes the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom. The Google Cloud Academic All-America® program separately recognizes softball honorees in four divisions - NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA.
Both Cato and Lee advance to the Google Cloud Academic All-America® ballot. First-, second- and third-team (when selected) Academic All-America® honorees will be announced in June. MORE
May 31, 2019
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. Dr. Whittaker V. Middleton, '73
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
Public Relations Director: J. Craig Cotton
Public Relations/Social Media Coordinator: Charnita Mack
Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Sports Information Director: Romanda Noble-Watson
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07