April 23, 2021
The World Needs Visionaries
The National Weather Service calls for continuous rain and wind on Saturday, April 24, in Orangeburg. As a result, Claflin University has changed its Commencement plans from an outdoor ceremony at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds to an indoor ceremony on campus at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. To accommodate this change, the Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be held at 8:00 a.m., and will be followed by the Commencement for the Class of 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

"The decision to hold an in-person commencement convocation was influenced by the recent development of three vaccines with high efficacy rates and the trend of lower COVID-19 infections in the state," said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University. "While participation is completely voluntary, the University feels a strong sense of obligation to offer the longstanding tradition of the commencement ceremony. I look forward to handing students their degrees and celebrating this momentous occasion," Dr. Warmack said.

Safety is always Claflin University's first priority. Commencement seating will be provided in a socially-distanced manner. Families will be seated together and at least three feet apart. Face coverings are required to enter the building and required to be worn through the entire ceremony.

More than 300 candidates of the Class of 2021 will receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University’s transformative academic programs. Graduates from the Class of 2020 received their degrees last year. However, they will participate in the “ceremonial march” across the stage at this year’s commencement.

The Class of 2021 also includes the 100th graduate from Claflin’s RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program, which launched in August 2016. The nursing department’s largest class of 40 students, received their degrees at the fall 2020 ceremony. Claflin’s master’s degree in nursing program will begin this fall.

Both convocations are ticketed events, however, you can watch live on the University's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ClaflinUniversity1869.

“The commencement ceremony is a memorable experience for our graduates, their families and friends, and the campus community,” said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, presient. “These students persevered despite unique and unimaginable challenges due to the coronavirus. We look forward to celebrating their achievements while maintaining the health and safety of our participants and guests.”

Click here for our Commencement information page.
Nationally-Ranked HBCU Claflin University to Present Ms. Anita G. Zucker, CEO of InterTech Group Inc. and Philanthropist with an Honorary Doctorate Degree at its 2021 Spring Commencement Convocation
Claflin University will award an honorary doctorate to businesswoman and philanthropist Ms. Anita G. Zucker at its 2021 Spring Commencement Convocation on Saturday, April 24, at 11:00 a.m. The ceremony will take place on the Claflin campus in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex.

Zucker is the chair and chief executive officer of The InterTech Group, Inc. (TIG), a privately held company founded by Zucker and her former husband, Jerry Zucker (OBM). One of the largest private companies in the USA, TIG and its affiliates operate in a diverse array of industries, from aerospace and specialty chemicals to real estate and entertainment. In addition to its wholly owned entities, TIG and its affiliates are substantial investors in many public companies and retain a diverse portfolio of equity, debt, and real estate holdings.

Zucker earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Florida and a Master of Education in educational administration and supervision from the University of North Florida. She taught elementary school for more than 10 years before beginning her work at TIG. Zucker holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University, The Citadel, College of Charleston, University of South Carolina, Johnson and Wales University, and Yeshiva University.

A daughter of holocaust survivors, Zucker is passionately committed to Tikkun Olam (Hebrew: repair of the world). She has been and continues to be a leader for numerous organizations. Currently, Zucker serves on the Board of Trustees at the University of Florida. She serves as vice-chair of the University of Florida Foundation and is past chair of the capital campaign for the University of Florida Foundations’ Executive Board. Zucker’s work at UF assisted in the launch of Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), an organization she founded and currently chairs. TCCC is a commitment to align community leadership and resources in an effort to ensure all children are successfully meeting important milestones from birth to career launch. She also currently serves on the President’s Initiatives Committee of Clemson University. 

Zucker is a founder and past co-chair of Tiffany Circle - Charleston, a national women's society established by the American Red Cross, and serves on the Chairman’s Council for the American Red Cross. Zucker was appointed to the Trident Technical College Area Commission and serves as a trustee. She is a past president of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and The Coastal Community Foundation boards where she continues to serve. Zucker is a former chair of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation Board, Hollings Cancer Center Citizens Advisory Committee, and currently chairs MUSC Neurosciences Advisory Board.

Ms. Zucker served as chairperson of the Board of Governors of the School of Business at the College of Charleston. Zucker is past president of the Charleston Jewish Federation and a member of the Committee for the Holocaust Memorial at Marion Square in Charleston, S.C. Zucker served as a member of the Trident Public Education Foundation, SC Business Education Partnership Committee for Excellence in Education, and as a past member and former chair of the SC Network of Business Partners for Education. 

She is a recipient of the 2019 James L. Fisher Distinguished Service Award, 2019 Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award, and 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She received the “Order of the Palmetto,” presented by Governor David Beasley for her dedication to education. She is a recipient of the Malcolm D. Haven Award from The Community Foundation for her contributions to the Tri-county community and Charleston Jewish Federation's inaugural “Light Unto the Nations” Award honoring both Mr. and Ms. Zucker. She has the distinction of being one of the South Carolina Ambassadors for Economic Development for Charleston County, presented by Governor Sanford and recipient of the Champions for Education Award, renamed The Zucker Champions for Education Award. Zucker received the Distinguished Alumnus Award and the President’s Award from the University of Florida and Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership.
Watch the 2021 Baccalaureate Program
Claflin’s annual Baccalaureate Service will be a virtual presentation on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m., that will be available on the University’s Facebook and Youtube pages. Rev. Dr. Benjamin D. Snoddy, a 1969 graduate, and pastor at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, in Spartanburg, S.C., will be the guest speaker.  Snoddy is also a member of the Claflin University Hall of Fame. Snoddy is an assistant dean of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, which is an affiliate of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. The ceremony will feature the presentation of 37 members of the Golden Class of 1971 and 41 graduates from the Golden Class of 1970. Golden Class members are alumni who are celebrating their 50th Anniversary as Claflin graduates. The Golden Class of 1970 was not honored last year due to the pandemic.
Claflin Class of 2021 Graduates Look Forward to In-Person Commencement Convocation and Future Careers in Business and Computer Science
Taylor A. Landon-Luckett and Tre' Jeter are among the Class of 2021 graduates who will participate in Claflin’s in-person Spring 2021 Commencement Convocation on Saturday April 24, at 11 a.m., at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex. The ceremony was originally planned as an outdoor event at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, however, it was moved inside due to the threat of inclement weather predicted for Saturday. 

Members of the Class of 2020 have been invited to take the “ceremonial” walk across the stage this year – a time honored ritual they missed when Claflin’s Spring 2020 ceremony was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. This event begins at 8 a.m. in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex.

“I'm excited about the in-person commencement,” said Landon-Luckett, an accounting major from Milwaukee, WI. “As a graduate you look forward to walking across the stage and making your family proud. My mom, dad, and, grandmother will be there. My degree is testimony that all of my hard work paid off.”

Landon-Luckett transferred to Claflin after attending a small private school in Illinois.  

“When I decided to transfer to an HBCU, I went online to see what schools had nationally-ranked business programs. I saw that Claflin was ranked among the Top 10 HBCUs and the University’s School of Business was a Top 10 program as well. I submitted my application and now I am a graduating senior.”

When asked what she would tell prospective students who were considering Claflin as a place to continue their education, Landon-Luckett responded without hesitation – “It’s a family atmosphere and I recommend it highly,” she said. “You hear it a lot – but it’s true. From finding me a room when I first arrived, receiving a scholarship, and being mentored about life and career opportunities by my professors – it has been a great experience.” 

The disruption caused by COVID-19 sparked a myriad of behavioral, emotional, and social issues on college campuses across the nation. However, it also provided students like Landon-Luckett an opportunity to recognize the importance of mental health. 

“It’s difficult to handle your academic responsibilities if you are experiencing mental health issues,” she said. “It was shocking to leave campus for Spring Break and not return. It was difficult not being on campus. I was participating in virtual classes, but it was like I was still on Spring Break. Several professors reached out and asked how I was feeling -- especially when they did not see my face during our virtual classes. They also asked about my family. The mental health services Claflin provided were amazing. I had a therapist I could talk to and it was very helpful.”

Landon-Luckett, who will graduate with a 3.71 GPA (grade point average), is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and the Financial Literacy and Investment Club of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She has accepted a position with Ernst and Young, one of the world’s largest accounting and professional services networks. Landon-Luckett will work as an auditor with the prestigious Fortune 500 company.

“I believe Claflin University has prepared me for future success and I'm ready to take my talents and knowledge into the corporate world,” she said. 

Jeter will graduate with a 3.78 GPA and a double major in computer science and computer engineering (cybersecurity). He has been accepted in the McKnight Doctoral Program at the University of Florida where he will earn a Ph.D. in computer science with an emphasis on blockchain technology – an incorruptible platform that stores and secures digital transactions for cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin.

Jeter said that blockchains are a relatively new technology that will continue to evolve. 

“I plan to conduct research in this industry, earn a doctorate, and learn as much as I can about this and similar technologies.”

Jeter said he understands why the most recent commencements were held virtually due to the COVID-19. But he does not believe the virtual ceremonies adequately acknowledge the achievements or the sacrifices students have made to earn their degrees.

“I am looking forward to walking across the stage with my classmates,” Jeter said. "I am really excited about this year’s commencement.”

Prior to enrolling at Claflin, Jeter earned college credit while taking classes in the University’s HBCU Up Program, a summer program for high-performing high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students. 

“I wanted to attend a historically black college/university (HBCU) – and Claflin is the No.1 HBCU in South Carolina,” said the Spartanburg, S.C., native looking back at when he arrived at Claflin. “I automatically felt the family atmosphere,” he said. “It felt like home.”

Jeter’s academic, athletic, and leadership abilities have been on full display at Claflin. He is a member of the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College and served as president of the Omicron Alpha Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Lambda Incorporated, Alpha Beta Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society; and Polemarch of the Gamma Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated. Jeter also finished fourth in the heptathlon at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) 2020 Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Like other students at Claflin, COVID-19 provided Jeter with a host of unexpected challenges. However, as a former track standout in high school and current member of Claflin’s track program, facing and overcoming hurdles was nothing new.  

“My biggest problem at first was time management, “said Jeter who earned all-county and all-region
honors in the 400 and 110 meter hurdles at Spartanburg High School. He was an all-state qualifier in the 
400m hurdles. “Although the classes are virtual, the times are the same and you have to treat it like a normal class situation. I later realized that I had more time to prepare for class.”
Student Spotlight
Check out On the Road, a show produced by students in the Department of Mass Communications at Claflin University. The show serves as means for students to gain practical experience as the department prepare students to become media practitioners. Click here to watch past episodes.
Panther Talks Live is a webinar series that highlights Claflin University events and issues. The program features in-depth discussions with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and University supporters. Panther Talks Live engages Claflin University and surrounding communities while increasing awareness for student success, accomplishments by our distinguished alumni, faculty and staff, fundraising opportunities, and special events.

Click here to register to watch the next Panther Talks Live on Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m. This episode's title is Saving Our Children and Surviving Sexual Assault.

You are invited to submit questions for this virtual program, please send them via email to communications@claflin.edu.

Click here to watch past episodes.
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@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
Interns: Myles Coverson-Springs, Tariq Edwards, Isaiah Griffin,
Amir Jordan and Marquel Sanders
Sports Information Director: Romanda Noble-Watson
Photographers: Cecil Williams, '60, Geoff Henderson and Colin Myers, '07