President Henry N. Tisdale Lauds $6 Million UNCF/ Lilly Endowment Grant “Game Changer” in South Carolina

Feb 18, 2017

Claflin University President Henry N. Tisdale termed the $6 million Career Pathway Initiative (CPI) grant from UNCF/Lilly Endowment a “game changer” for the three South Carolina institutions sharing the award at a press conference at Benedict College on Thursday in Columbia.

Under the Carolina Cluster Pathway Program (C2P2), the grant will enable Claflin University, Benedict College and Voorhees College to design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates.

"We believe the Career Pathway Initiative is a game changer for our institutions," said Tisdale.  "With an increasing emphasis on lowering debt and job placement we believe it's time to respond to the challenge. With the assistance and resources UNCF is providing, we believe our schools can become models and leading institutions that accept students who have financial and economic challenges and graduate them at unprecedented rates."

The grant allocated $3.3 million to Claflin University; $1.5 million to Benedict College and $1.2 million to Voorhees College.  A portion of the Claflin University grant ($1.8 million) will operate the State Coordinating Office which will monitor all of the activities of the awarded institutions.

During the event, Dr. Michael Lomax, UNC chief executive officer, presented the symbolic $6 million check to the three college presidents, Tisdale, Dr. David Swinton of Benedict and Dr. W. Franklin Evans of Voorhees.

"The fact that we have so many people here today is a testament to the support these schools have from the people and communities they serve," said Lomax prior to the check presentation.  "Part of the reason why you are here is that you recognize that the work of these universities is really making a big difference in the communities and the state of South Carolina."

The three institutions participated in a year-long process which included a multi-phased grant process that initially targeted 87 eligible public and private HBCUs and PBIs.  The Carolina Cluster Pathway Program will prepare students for high-paying private and public sector occupations in the Carolinas and elsewhere. It seeks to do this by guided pathways, curricular enhancements, and integrated co-curricular engagement. In its initiative, the C2P2 will also include the formation of corporate and public advisory boards.

Following the check presentation each president discussed how the grant will benefit their respective institutions.

"The Cluster Grant has far-reaching implications for the University," Tisdale said.  "It builds upon the University’s history of offering strong academic programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  During the past three years,  twenty percent of our graduates have been STEM majors.  But we will also have programs to support non-STEM disciplines," he added.   "We will conduct ongoing initiatives targeting credentials, and strategic partnerships with industries that secure high-paying jobs for graduates."

The announcement also represents the dynamic progression of Claflin’s increasing emphasis on strategic academic partnerships and developing and sustaining career-focused academic degree programs that meet the needs of the 21st century workforce.

Beginning in fall 2017, Claflin students will embark on a carefully chosen guided career pathway -- supported by a team of faculty, professional advisors, and career counselors.

Each institution is required to develop programs to support curricular enhancements, co-curricular  activities via experiential learning programs, and guided pathways.

"We will enhance our academic programs by re-engineering the general education curriculum, "said Tisdale.  "We will also expand major programs of study to align with workforce needs and allow students to add employable minors and certificate programs."

Tisdale said that experiential education has always been important at Claflin and a significant number of students continue to take advantage of internships and co-op programs.

"We will develop a structure for guided career pathway so our freshmen students will understand the possibilities for their future  can be so much more than what they thought when they  left high school," Tisdale said. " We want to help them to understand the benefits of using technology to organize portfolios  and to begin preparing for career opportunities."

Tisdale introduced members of the steering committee at Claflin led by Provost Karl Wright.  Tisdale also introduced Dr. Angela Peters, vice provost at Claflin who is the interim executive director of the Carolina Cluster Pathway Program (C2P2).

"We thank UNCF for believing in our institutions, "said Tisdale. "Your investment will help us make the story of the 21st Century workforce one of increased diversity and inclusion."

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