President Henry N. Tisdale Delivers State of the University Address and Claflin LEADS Initiatives At 147th Matriculation Day Convocation

Sep 08, 2016

A stirring address by President Henry N. Tisdale, inspirational music by Claflin’s gospel and concert choirs, installation of Student Government Association officers and the ringing of the ceremonial bell officially launched the 2016-17 academic year during the 147th Matriculation Day Convocation held Thursday in the Tullis Arena of the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center. 

Claflin University’s steady emergence as a leading 21st Century institution of higher education was the focus of Tisdale’s remarks. “Claflin LEADS: A Shared Vision for the 21st Century” was the theme of this year’s convocation, which affirms the University’s growing reputation in higher education, research, the arts  and for producing graduates who are engaged visionary leaders with global perspectives.

“The Matriculation Day Convocation is a time for all members of the Claflin University family to reflect on the tremendous successes that have occurred at this institution over the past 147 years,” said Tisdale. “The city of Orangeburg, the state of South Carolina, the nation and the world witnessed in 1869, the birth of Claflin University.  It was no certainty in 1869 that a university that boldly claimed that it would graduate and produce leaders among the newly freed slaves would or could survive -- especially in the state of South Carolina where segregation was the law of the land.  It’s difficult to imagine if anyone back then believed it was possible that Claflin would now be ranked as one of the premier liberal arts institution in the state of South Carolina,” Tisdale added.

 Tisdale went through an impressive list of achievements from the 2015-16 academic year which he described as one of the most successful in the history of Claflin University.  Included were Claflin being named HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest; Claflin’s alumni giving rate of 50 percent which is the highest at HBCUs and ranks among the leaders from all colleges and universities; Claflin’s first Olympic athlete, Brandon Valentine-Parris who competed in the 2016 Rio Games; Trisana

 Fairweather, who placed first at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championship and the baseball team which captured the SAIA Tournament title.

“We want to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments, but it’s important that we look forward to the future with a common vision,” said Tisdale.  “That vision can be summarized as Claflin LEADS, which is an acronym for Leadership Development, Experiential Learning, Academic Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion and Student Success with a shared vision,” Tisdale said. “We will go forward as One Claflin and with a new spirit of teamwork.”

In looking to the future, Tisdale recognized the record-setting 560 new students who enrolled for the 2016-17 academic year that are members of the Class of 2020. The class comprises more than 500 freshmen – another school record - representing 44 of 46 counties in South Carolina.  He also acknowledged the significance of the new RN (Registered Nurse) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that launched at Claflin this fall and the University being awarded the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) Grant funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

 “We are the only HBCU in South Carolina that has a nursing program of this kind,” said Tisdale.  “It’s a major step for Claflin, but the program will also improve the quality of nurses and the healthcare industry throughout the state and the region.”

Claflin University received a $100,000 planning grant from UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative. The planning grant enables Claflin to submit a proposal for a much larger award.  The grant supports ongoing initiatives targeting credentials, and strategic partnerships with industries that secure high-paying jobs for graduates.

 “These resources will greatly assist the University with developing and sustaining career-focused academic degree and certificate programs that will enhance how we prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation,” said Tisdale.

Dr. Ishita Mukhopadhyay and two other faculty members at the University of Calcutta, India were among the special guests at the convocation.   Provost Karl S. Wright led a group of Claflin faculty to India last fall for the inauguration of the U.S.-India 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Project in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).  During their visit, Claflin established a partnership with the University of Calcutta and collaborated on an entrepreneurship development project titled, “Promoting Eco-friendly Entrepreneurship Development Among Women in West Bengal, India.”

“We bring greetings from the University of Calcutta,” said Mukhopadhyay, a professor in the Department of Economics.  “We anticipate more collaboration between the universities and with the young scholars and faculty at both institutions.  This is a partnership between two respected universities that are similar in their rich history and traditions but we are from different corners of the world.  There is so much we can learn from each other from this partnership,” she added.

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