Spencer and Reverend Minnie Anderson Establish Endowed Scholarship for Biology Majors at Claflin University
Aug 30, 2018
When Spencer and Reverend Minnie Anderson decided to establish an endowed scholarship at Claflin University to honor the memory of their two sons, Michael Cutler and the Rev. Dr. Otis Cutler Jr., who died 28 days apart, they were guided by several significant reasons. First, they wanted to create a purposeful and enduring symbol of their sons’ compassion for others and their commitment to improving the lives of everyone around them. Second, the endowment reflects their support of academic achievement and dedication to community service. Another motivation was that the scholarship would serve as a tribute from their third son, Mark Cutler, a branch manager at BB&T in Beaufort, S.C.
The Spencer and Rev. Minnie Anderson Endowed Scholarship Fund was created with the Anderson’s recent gift of $20,000 to Claflin University. A scholarship will be awarded annually to a student majoring in biology from the state of South Carolina who maintains a minimum 3.3 grade point average. The Andersons are hopeful that the recipient will continue their education in medical school or participate in research that will help expand the knowledge, treatment, or contribute to finding a cure for terminal illnesses.
“Both Spencer and I believe science, research and preparing students for STEM careers are very important,” said Minnie Anderson. “This endowed scholarship helps preserve our memories of Michael and Otis and helps us to move forward in a meaningful way. The scholarship will also bring increased awareness for medical research and address health-related issues.”
The Anderson’s endowment aligns with President Henry N. Tisdale’s goal to increase funding for scholarships during his final year as the University’s transformative and visionary leader. Tisdale announced last spring that he will retire on June 30, 2019, after 25 years as Claflin’s eighth president.
“We thank you and your families for your commitment to Claflin,” said Tisdale during the check presentation. “I am committed to increasing scholarships and endowments in my final year as we continue to support our high-achieving scholars and help them remain in school.”
The Andersons had traveled to Maryland for Thanksgiving last year to spend time with their family. They also planned to see Otis following his surgery for a rare form of brain cancer. Michael flew from San Jose, California to join them. After returning to California,
Michael, a 48-year old fire protection engineer, suffered a pulmonary embolism and died on December 22 in his home.
“Michael and his son Christopher were reviewing blueprints,” said Spencer, a 1999 Claflin graduate and interim director of auxiliary services at Claflin.
“His death was sudden and very unexpected.” Christopher, who worked closely with his father, has inherited the family business, Innovative Technologies.
Minnie said that Michael had visited every continent but Antarctica. He was a single parent who had launched two non-profit organizations to benefit other single parents. He also had a special affinity for HBCUs.
“Michael graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in fire protection engineering. But he was very supportive of HBCUs,” said Minnie, who earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Baltimore and a master’s from Liberty University. She is studying for her second master's as a matriculating student at Asbury Theological Seminary.
“I did not graduate from Claflin but I feel as if they have adopted me. Establishing the scholarship at Claflin is what he would have wanted.”
Otis died on January 19, 2018, less than a month later. He was pastor at Rebirth Ministries in Baltimore, Md. and a lobbyist who fought for economic equality for minority communities. Otis earned a bachelor’s in philosophy at Morgan State University and a master's from the Howard University School of Divinity in religious studies. He earned a doctoral degree in leadership from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Otis attended school with the late S.C. Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine people killed in 2015 at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
“After Spencer and I were united in holy matrimony we talked about having a purpose for our marriage and this scholarship fulfills this desire,” said Minnie. “We love helping young people and Michael and Otis did as well. This scholarship exemplifies our family’s commitment to helping young people achieve their goals.”
Mark will also continue to help young people prepare to excel in their future endeavors and lead productive lives – a vision he shared with his brothers.
The endowment forever unites the Anderson family through their support for Claflin students and the University’s emphasis on producing outstanding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduates.
The Anderson’s stated: “We are hopeful that our contribution will inspire other Claflin alumni and supporters to establish or contribute to existing endowments.”