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Alumni Return to Claflin University to Lead Art, Philosophy & Religion Departments

Sep 04, 2012

Two Claflin University alumni are returning to their alma mater to chair departments in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Award winning art teacher Alvin Staley, ’77, will lead the Department of Art while Rev. Dr. Robin Dease, ’92, is the new chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale said the University family is ecstatic about the return of Staley and Dease to Claflin.

“One of the most remarkable things at Claflin University is we have no shortage of leal and loyal alumni who are willing to steadfastly give back to the institution,” said Tisdale.  “It is also wonderful when our alumni return to the University to serve our mission of creating visionary leaders with global perspectives.  The appointments of Dr. Dease and Mr. Staley will no doubt enhance the academic mosaic of leading scholars at Claflin.”

Alvin Staley, ‘77

Staley is a past chair of the Art Department at Claflin who returns after spending the past two decades creating a national awarding winning art program at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. 

He says his life was changed when he met the late Arthur Rose, ’50, former Art Department chair, as young art student in Washington, D.C.  “He changed the way I saw myself and art.  He had a passion for art and people who was more than a teacher – he was a friend,” Staley said of his mentor.

The lessons of Rose still resonate strongly with Staley.  He has passed them along to many of O-W students who regularly received national recognition and scholarships for their work.  Staley’s ambitious but simplistic approach to his new post involves increasing three things: visibility, productivity and accountability.

“We have a wealth of talent in terms of our faculty and staff with this program.  We will ensure our students are constantly striving for excellence.  I want this department to be synomous with excellence,” said Staley. 

As a student at Claflin, he met his wife, Bretta, ’77.  Their children, Altroy, ’03, and Kizzi, ’03, are also alumni.  “My entire family graduated from Claflin,” he notes. 

He has also taught art at Voorhees College, Morris College, South Carolina State University and the Governor’s School for the Arts.

Rev. Dr. Robin Dease, ‘92

Dease holds a Doctorate in Ministry and a Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.  She graduated cum laude from Claflin with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1992. 

Currently, she is the senior pastor of John Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville.  Previously, she served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Claflin.  Dease is also the continuing education director of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church Board of Ordained Ministry. 

She is currently working on co-authoring a book titled, In Search of Holy Orders: Preparing for the Board on Ordained Ministry.

Her primary goal is to raise enrollment in the Department.  She estimates that 90 percent of the state’s African-American United Methodist pastors have ties to Claflin but many are set to retire. “We want to keep that tradition alive,” she says.

In addition, Dease also desires to fully equip faculty and staff in the Department of Philosophy and Religion to ensure students’ have a well-rounded education.

It was her senior year at Claflin when Dease felt the calling to ministry.  “I think Claflin’s religious life has left an indelible mark on me.   I always knew I was going to teach here to give back and to be part of the growth at Claflin under Dr. Tisdale’s leadership is truly exciting.” 

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