Claflin News

Six Visionaries Selected for Claflin University Hall of Fame

Dec 02, 2011


Five distinguished alumni and a former president will be inducted into the Claflin University Hall of Fame during the 18th Annual Presidential Scholarship Gala on Friday, Nov. 18.

This year's honorees are Peytrienne Manning Gooden McCormick, '66, a well-traveled educator and dedicated alumna; Hattie Mitchell Whitmire, '57, an award-winning and innovative teacher who founded an alumni chapter in South Florida; Rev. Louis T. Cannon, Sr., '59, a research scholar who received the calling to the ministry; the late Josephine Mitchell Williams, a long time educator and leader to alumni in the Midlands; Christine Scott Davenport, '70, an advocate for education in her community and Africa; and the late Dr. Oscar A. Rogers, Jr., Claflin's seventh president who forged the path for the institution to be a premier undergraduate teaching and research university.

· Peytrienne Manning Gooden McCormick (Education)

McCormick attended Claflin University and majored in elementary education with a minor in psychology. Upon graduation from Claflin in 1966, she entered the education field and taught in Greenwood, S.C.; Neubruke, West Germany; the District of Columbia Public Schools; and Prince Georges County Public Schools in Maryland. She retired in 2009 after 43 years of teaching. She still substitute teaches a few days a week.

McCormick is an active member of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Claflin University International Alumni Association (CUIAA). She currently serves as the chapter's treasurer. McCormick was awarded a Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Service by CUIAA for her work with the Washington chapter.

McCormick is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Phi Delta Kappa Sorority. She enjoys performing with her dance group at women's shelters, nursing homes and homeless shelters. She regularly attends Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her future plans include assisting abused women, traveling and spending time with her three children, LaDonna, Dwayne and Donald, and her grandchildren, Graham, Camille, and Draylen.

· Hattie Mitchell Whitmire (Education)

Whitmire is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina and a 1957 graduate of Wilkinson High School. In 1962, she graduated Cum Laude from Claflin University where she majored in science. She completed her master's degree in education at South Carolina State College.

Whitmire began her teaching career in Harleyville, S.C. She later taught at schools in Sparta, Ga., Melbourne, Fl. and Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., where she retired after teaching a total of 37 years. While teaching in Ft. Lauderdale for the School Board of Broward County, she developed a behavioral management program. She was also instrumental in the implementation of the “Instructional Improvement Team” and the “Florida Performance Measurement System”. She was named “Teacher of the Year” in 1988 at Nova Middle School.

As a founding member of the South Florida Alumni Chapter of CUIAA, Whitmire has served in the capacities of treasurer and president. Currently the president of the South Florida Alumni Chapter, she organized the “Florida Round Up”, which serves to gather alumni and friends in Florida to encourage membership to the CUIAA and solicit donors. Currently, she is the chairperson for the CUIAA's Memorial Service. She has received accolades from Claflin in the areas of leadership and giving. Whitmire is a faithful lifetime member of CUIAA.

Whitmire has dual membership in the Methodist church at Mt. Hermon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. and Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, SC. She was married to the late Franklin S. Whitmire and has two sons, Kevin and Stephen, and three grandsons, Kevin II, Williams and Mason.

· Rev. Louis T. Cannon, Sr. (Religion)

Rev. Louis T. Cannon, Sr., was born in Clemson, South Carolina. He received his early education in the South Carolina Public School System. At the age of 18, he joined the United States Air Force. After being discharged from the Air Force, he enrolled at Claflin University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry. While at Claflin, he was president of the Claflin University Student Government Association.

When he arrived in Washington, D.C, he was instrumental in organizing the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the CUIAA. Cannon served as the chapter's first president. He now serves as Chaplain of the Washington, D.C. Chapter.

Most of his professional life was spent as a research microbiologist at the National Institutes of Health located in Bethesda, Maryland and at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. He later enrolled at San Diego Baptist Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in 1993. Cannon pastored at churches in Moreno Valley, California and Temple Hills, Maryland before founding St. Paul's Ephesians Community Church and St. Paul's Ephesians Development, Inc., a non-profit organization in Glenn Dale, Maryland. He continued to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul's Church as well as Protestant pastor at Brighton Garden Sunrise Senior Living Facility located in Columbia, Maryland.

He and his wife, Barbara Jean, have four children: Juillet, Michelle, Timothy Louis and Louis, Jr. They have an adopted daughter, Michelle Praytor, along with ten grandchildren: Nashey, Brandon, Timmia, Gabrielle, Danielle, Louis III, Jamelle, Jessica, Arielle and Joelle.

· Josephine Mitchell Williams – Posthumously (Community Service)

Josephine Mitchell Williams is a native of Ridge Spring, South Carolina. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Claflin University and a Master of Education degree from the University of South Carolina. She did extended post-graduate studies at Fordham University and Saint Augustine's College.

Williams retired in 1985 from Richland County Public Schools and also taught in Aiken County Public Schools. Memberships included the S.C. Teacher Education Association, National Mathematics Council of Teachers Association and the National Education Association. She was extremely active in the recruitment of funds for Claflin from alumni and friends. She served as treasurer of the CUIAA for several years and helped with activating the Columbia Chapter. There, she held the position of president for eight years and chaired two CUIAA conferences in Columbia.

Williams was recognized as Teacher of the Year in her local school. She was noted for her proactive relationship with students, always encouraging those with mathematical potential to apply to Claflin and other universities.

Williams was a faithful and devoted member of Francis Burns United Methodist Church and was instrumental in helping to initiate the vast project of building a new church. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

· Dr. Oscar A. Rogers, Jr. – Posthumously (Education)

Oscar A. Rogers, Jr. was born in 1928 in Natchez, Mississippi. He completed his undergraduate work at Tougaloo College and later received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from Harvard University Divinity School. He then went on to receive a graduate degree in education from Harvard and a doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Rogers was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Washington.

During his career, he was a minister and educator. He pastored at churches in Massachusetts, Kentucky, New York and Arkansas. Prior to arriving at Claflin, he served in several capacities at Jackson State University for 24 years, including professor, dean of students and dean of the graduate school. Rogers served as the seventh president of Claflin University from 1984 to 1994. Under his leadership, Claflin significantly strengthened its endowment, raised enrollment and completed two highly successful fundraising campaigns. The campus' physical plant was also vastly upgraded through renovations and the construction of new buildings such as the Grace Thomas Kennedy Building. During his tenure, the University established the Board of Visitors. Rogers was also a patron of the arts who commissioned the creation of an alumni art collection.

Rogers was married to the former Ethel Lee Lewis, and was the father of three sons, Christopher Allen, Christian Shawn, and Christoff, '91, and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Christopher Allen.

· Christine Scott Davenport (Education)

Christine Scott Davenport was born in Kingstree, South Carolina and received her secondary education from St. Mark Elementary and High School. In 1970, she graduated from Claflin College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Science. She later earned a Master of Arts degree from Morgan State University in Biology in 1974 and later, a degree in School Administration from McDaniel College in 2005.

Davenport began her teaching career as a science teacher in Halifax, Virginia Public Schools before moving to Glen Burnie, Maryland. She has served as a member and chair of various committees on the local, state and national level for the school system. She is one of her community's strongest advocates for education. In 1988, she organized and served as president of the Jack and Jill of America, Inc., in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, whose objectives include providing for children a constructive education, cultural and civic recreation and social forum. She also organized and served as the president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. which strives for economic empowerment and political awareness for women and improved education for all children from 1991 to 1997. Seeking new opportunities for growth in the community, she summoned 23 graduates and chartered the Greater Northern Maryland Alumni Chapter in April 2011.

She has also been an advocate for education in Africa. In 1996, she and her daughter, Ashleigh, returned to Ghana with over 3,594 books and school supplies for the entire school population. They opened the first public library at a public school in Accra, Ghana. Mrs. Davenport is a member of the Gethsemane Church Ministries in Pasadena, Maryland. She is the proud mother of Fred Julian Davenport, a graduate of Bowie State University, and Ashleigh Nicole Davenport, a graduate of Claflin University.

The inductions and Gala are part of the University's Homecoming 2011 Weekend that concludes on Sunday, Nov. 20 with the Founders' Day Convocation, featuring South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the keynote speaker. The Convocation will be held at 4 p.m. in the Tullis Arena in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center. The public is invited to attend the Convocation.

Claflin will also recognize its 2011-2012 Presidential Scholars during the Gala.

The Presidential Scholarship Gala will be held at Tullis Arena in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center on campus starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18. A silent auction will be held at the same location an hour prior to the Gala.

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