Claflin News

Claflin University’s Top 10 Stories of 2013

Dec 31, 2013

This has been an exciting year at Claflin University. Here, we highlight the University’s top 10 stories of 2013:

  1. Sodexo – the corporation that provides integrated food and facilities management services for Claflin – become the largest single donor in the University’s history when it contributed $4.35 million to the Campaign for Claflin University. The donation was announced Oct. 17. Sodexo’s historic contribution will support student scholarships, enhance facilities, and promote health and wellness on campus.  To date, Claflin has raised more than $70 million of its $96.4 million goal. With those funds, Claflin has brought wireless connectivity to the entire campus, built a chapel and research center, renovated the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center – one of its most popular community venues – and nearly doubled its endowment. The campaign is divided into three major funding areas: $13.9 million to strengthen academic programs, $41 million to enhance campus facilities and $41.5 million to build the University’s endowment. ($4.35-million-to-campaign-for-claflin-university)


  2. Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale announced a gift of $250,000 to the University on March 28. Their gift will be used to endow a professorship in the STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – disciplines; support two endowed scholarships, the Alice Carson Tisdale Endowed Scholarship in Education and the Henry N. Tisdale Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics; and provide scholarship support for students in other disciplines and student athletes. The Tisdales were named this year’s Leadership Giving honorees at Claflin’s Leadership Giving Luncheon on Nov. 15. ($250-000-gift-to-the-university)


  3. Claflin University broke ground on a new student housing complex that features state-of-the-art amenities geared toward grooming successful students and attracting many more in the years to come during a ceremony Sept. 5 at the site. The new 64,000 square foot residence hall – which will establish a new gateway to the campus from Goff Avenue – will be comprised of two three-story wings, one each for men and women, with accommodations for approximately 200 students in two- and four-bedroom suites. Each wing will feature its own elevator, laundry room, computer lab and informal study areas. The wings will be connected by a shared student commons area that will include the main entry to the building. It will feature open gathering spaces, high ceilings, lots of natural light, a small multipurpose room for student meetings and two fitness rooms. New plazas and courtyards will provide additional outdoor gathering spaces for students. The building, designed with environmental stability in mind by Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architecture, will make use of natural daylight and energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, thereby reducing the consumption of electricity and gas. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures will reduce water consumption, and the use of regional and recycled materials in the building’s construction will help conserve natural resources. (


  4. Claflin biology professor Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology Department, was granted a U.S. patent in December 2012 for a process that could one day lead to a preventive HIV vaccine. Obtaining the patent was the culmination of 15 years Bagasra has devoted to working to inhibit the HIV virus. Through research, he knew that roughly one percent of the human population was naturally immune to HIV, but why? Bagasra believes the answer is that those people were exposed to an innocuous variant of hepatitis called GBV-C. He reasoned that if someone was exposed to GBV-C before being exposed to HIV, then it should prevent the virus from progressing through its deadly stages. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Bagasra a patent for the process in which he inhibits HIV using the microRNA of the GBV-C virus, a human virus that naturally infects roughly 3 percent of the world population but does not appear to cause any known illness. In March, Bagasra released “Reassessing HIV Vaccine Design and Approaches: Towards a Paradigm Shift,” which thoroughly outlined his theory and research results.  (


  5. Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle’s research into the coldest matter in the universe garnered him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001. He was on the Claflin University campus Sept. 26 to share his discovery of the Bose-Einstein condensate and passion for physics during an afternoon lecture in the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. In addition to Claflin faculty, staff and students, dozens of students and faculty members from Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, Felton Laboratory School, Palmetto Scholars Academy in Charleston, Furman University, The Citadel, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina attended the event. Dr. Ketterle interacted with Claflin students before the program in the Molecular Science and Research Center during a poster session highlighting research taking place at the University. He told those gathered for his presentation that he was impressed by the energy at Claflin University, and “the passion and the quality of the faculty, and also the quality of the research facilities I’ve seen here. This is really a good school.” Dr. Ketterle was the third Nobel Laureate to visit the campus. (


  6. In an effort to help local citizens achieve their dreams of attaining a four-year college degree, Claflin University and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College entered into memorandums of understanding in several academic areas in October. The agreements establish “a formal academic transfer mechanism” between the two schools to “promote and facilitate” the transfer of academic credit for specific courses taken at OCtech to Claflin University so that students can earn bachelor’s degrees in the areas of early childhood education, elementary education, mid-level education, and politics and justice studies. Also offered are academic tracks for professional and continuing studies students to earn bachelor’s degrees in either sociology and criminal justice administration or organizational management. (


  7. Claflin University’s School of Education had its accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education reaffirmed by the Unit Accreditation Board at its April meeting in St. Louis, Mo. This accreditation decision indicates that the unit and its programs meet rigorous standards of the professional education community. An NCATE on-site team, along with officials from the South Carolina Department of Education, visited Claflin last fall, reviewed required documentation and interviewed key stakeholders for evaluation of the School of Education. In addition to determining that the School of Education met the six required standards, the UAB also made a distinct decision to recognize that the unit is moving toward target (exceeding standards) in the areas of candidate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions, assessment system and unit evaluation, and field experience and clinical practice. Additionally, no areas for improvement relative to any of the standards were cited. (


  8. A special daylong symposium was held at the University in September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of school desegregation in South Carolina. The event was organized by Claflin history professor Dr. Millicent Brown, one of the 11 African-American students who helped desegregate Charleston County schools and one of the first two black students to attend Rivers High School. In addition to Brown, “From Brown (1954) to Brown (1963) and Beyond: Achieving Educational Equality in South Carolina” featured other “first children” as well as professors and historians familiar with state and national desegregation efforts. The purpose of the symposium was to address the role the state, counties and communities play in providing quality education for all students. (


  9. Claflin University hosted retired U.S. Ambassador James Irvin Gadsden in November as part of the University’s Visionary Leadership Institute. During his two-day visit, the former ambassador to Iceland shared stories from his decades of Foreign Service work and what students can do to be prepared to work in a global economy. The Charleston native currently serves as Diplomat-in-Residence and lecturer in public and international affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in Princeton, N.J. Earlier this year, Claflin senior politics and justice studies major Ashley Simmons became only the second Claflin student to be awarded the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The 21-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native is among 40 men and women – 20 undergraduate and 20 graduate fellows – who will begin their journey towards representing America as Foreign Service Officers through the Fellowship. Alumna Tiffany Miller was the first Claflin student to be selected for the Pickering Fellowship in 2010. (;


  10. In December, the Claflin University Concert Choir presented Handel’s “Messiah” before a record audience at Stevenson Auditorium in downtown Orangeburg. It was standing-room only as the choir – joined by dozens of community members from local church choirs and University faculty and staff – delivered an abbreviated version of the beloved holiday masterpiece. Coverage of the “Messiah” by South Carolina ETV’s Palmetto Scene can be viewed at  (


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