Claflin University 2020 History Book coverClick here to download "Claflin University: A Brief Historical Reference."
(Last updated August 2021)



Claflin University was founded and named in honor of Lee Claflin, a prominent Methodist layman from Boston, and his son William Claflin, then governor of Massachusetts. With “the only admission requirements for prospective students being the possession of good moral character and a conscientious desire to learn,” Claflin University offered, for the first time in South Carolina, quality higher education for men and women “regardless of race, complexion, or religious opinion.”


Dr. Alonzo Webster was appointed the institution’s first president at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees. An outstanding leader, Webster served not only as Claflin’s president, but also as a member of the Board of Trustees, professor of systematic theology and moral and mental philosophy and chief fundraiser.


In an effort to strengthen Claflin’s financial base, Webster helped establish an agricultural and mechanical college at Claflin University, the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Institute, on March 12, which assured state funding for the institution through the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862.


Webster resigned as president on June 5, but served as a member of Claflin's Board of Trustees until 1886.

The Rev. Dr. Edward Cooke, a graduate of Wesleyan University, Harvard University and McKendree College became the second president of Claflin, which saw its enrollment increase to more than 300 students. Under Dr. Cooke's scholarly leadership, the institution was also gaining a reputation for its curriculum.


A fire destroyed the main building, adding to the mounting fiscal challenges facing Claflin.


Cooke appointed then-special agent of Claflin University, the Rev. Dr. Lewis Marion Dunton, to resolve the fiscal problems of the University through fundraising. Dunton proved to be an adept fundraiser and played an instrumental role in generating support for Claflin in the South, which had previously proven elusive.


Claflin's new main building opened. The University also began enrolling students from all over the state, increased its faculty and curriculum, introduced extracurricular activities and installed a replacement library.


Claflin bestowed its first honorary degrees, including a Master of Arts degree to Dunton.

The institution continued to prosper under Cooke. The board proposed the addition of a school of law and a school of medicine. The chair of the law school was former South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright.


Another much celebrated occasion came in 1882, when the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation that two students, Nathaniel Middleton and William Bulkley, receive bachelor’s degrees. They became the first students to complete the four-year college course offered by the University. After their graduation, Middleton earned an MD degree, becoming a prominent physician in Texas, and Bulkley went on to receive his PhD - becoming the third African-American in the country to do so.

Along with major fiscal accomplishments, several buildings were erected on campus during the 1880s - Haygood Polytechnic Hall, men’s and women’s dormitories, the Claflin Retail Store, the Matthew Simpson Industrial Home for Girls, the Slater Building and the rebuilt main building.

After 12 years of service, Cooke retired at age 70, citing poor health.

Past Presidents

  • Dr. Alonzo Webster (1869-1874)
    Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont and a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees, secured Claflin’s charter in 1869. The charter forbids discrimination of any sort among faculty, staff and students, making Claflin the first South Carolina university open to all students regardless of race, class, or gender.

    Claflin opened its doors with Dr. Webster as its first president. He came to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston, an institution established by the S.C. Mission Conference of 1866 of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of African-American ministers. In 1870, the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University. An act by the South Carolina General Assembly on March 12, 1872, designated the South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute as a part of Claflin University. In 1896, the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation, which severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution, which eventually became South Carolina State University.
  • Dr. Edward Cooke (1874-1884)
    Dr. Edward Cook left the presidency of Lawrence College to become the second president of Claflin. During his administration, a disastrous fire destroyed the Fisk Building, a proud monument designed by Robert Bates who is recognized as the first certified black architect in the United States. In 1879, the first college class graduated.

    By 1878, a new Main Building was constructed for the campus. Along with rebuilding the campus, President Cook introduced a significant number of academic innovations. The university experienced enrollment of students from all over the state, an increase in faculty and curriculum, the introduction of extracurricular activities, and the installation of a replacement library, which at one point held more than 1,200 volumes.

    President Cooke’s tenure proved very productive, as the institution continued to prosper. The Board proposed the addition of a school of law and a school of medicine. The chair of the law school was former South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright.
  • Dr. Lewis M. Dunton (1884-1922)
    Past President Dr. Lewis M. DuntonThe Rev. Dr. Lewis Marion Dunton was a popular and widely applauded choice to replace Cooke, as his dedication and commitment to Claflin had already been thoroughly demonstrated. Born in New York in 1848, Dunton was educated at Cazenovia and Talley Seminaries and Syracuse University. The pastor of Centenary Church, now Centenary United Methodist Church, in Charleston until 1880, Dunton took an interest in Claflin and knew many of the institution's supporters and board members.

    As a special agent for Claflin, Dunton traveled to the North and proved to be an outstanding fundraiser for the University. In 1879, as then-secretary of the Board of Trustees, Dunton became one of the first recipients of an honorary degree from Claflin. With his wife, Mary Dunton, who assumed duties as preceptress and faculty member in the Art Department, Dunton was poised to carry out the mission of the University.

    Expansion of Claflin became one of Dunton's first priorities, along with an expanded curriculum. As a result, Claflin’s musical scholars became known nationally. National tours and recitals by the Claflin Singers proved profitable for the institution.

    In 1888, with the help of longtime supporter William Claflin, the trustees endorsed the president’s plans to expand the physical plant, adding several new buildings to the campus. These buildings made it possible for Claflin to offer more training in industry and trade.

    Included in the additions were the School of Military Tactics – organized for the promotion of good order, strict obedience, physical development, manly carriage and neatness in appearance; a printing press, which produced the institution’s first publication, The Claflin Miscellany; and the organization of a YMCA.

    The number of graduates of Claflin’s college and normal courses continued to increase, and students were encouraged to become doctors, lawyers, influential leaders and prominent role models. Dunton maintained a delicate balance of sensitivity to the outside world and ambition for his institution amid the sensitive social and political climate of the time.

    In 1896, the political activity that had for years threatened the alliance between Claflin University and the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Institute (now South Carolina State University) finally gained sufficient support in the South Carolina General Assembly. By an act approved on March 9, 1896, the two institutions were permanently separated. Facing the challenge of his career, Dunton began to plan a new strategy for the physical, financial and academic reconstruction of Claflin University. As a result of the efforts of Dunton and the Board of Trustees, Claflin adjusted to the changes and moved into a new year that saw the construction of the Lee Library and substantial donations.

    In 1899, Claflin's main building was again destroyed by fire. Dunton, the consummate fundraiser, raised $38,000 to secure new and substantial buildings. In the next 16 years of his tenure as president, the institution expanded, with the erection of the T. Willard Lewis Chapel (1907), Tingley Memorial Hall (1908), Mary E. Dunton Hall (1907), the Slater Building (1900), Wilson Dormitory for Girls (1913), the Louise Soules Home for Girls (1904) and a new Manual Training Building (1900). On January 9, 1913, the Fisk Building was destroyed by fire.

    Dunton’s tenure lasted 38 years, while his overall service to the institution totaled 47 years. To secure Claflin’s financial future, he launched efforts towards an endowment that he hoped would eventually reach $500,000. At the end of Dunton's administration, the endowment fund stood at more than $400,000, with the physical plant valued at more than $225,000.

  • Dr. Joseph B. Randolph (1922-1945)
    Past Presdient Dr. Joseph B. RandolphPrior to Dunton's resignation, the Board of Trustees, with the approval of the president, selected Dr. Joseph Benjamin Randolph as Claflin’s fourth president and first African-American president.

    Randolph, a former president of Sam Houston College in Austin, Texas, possessed strong academic qualifications and was well-respected for his accomplishments in black educational institutions. With the vision of turning Claflin into a liberal arts institution with strong cultural and classical affiliations, Randolph prepared to move Claflin into a new and productive era.

    Under his administration, Claflin’s reputation changed. The institution was no longer known for its large and comprehensive Manual Training Department. With emphasis on high scholastic standards, the faculty and curriculum were upgraded and the number of courses in the Manual Training Department was reduced. As the standards of the institution conformed to the requirements of the Southern Educational Association, catalogues began stating requirements for a student to graduate with a degree. The changes resulted in an increase in the institution’s enrollment. The student body numbered 600 in 1928, double the number of students in 1923. The confidence with which Randolph set about implementing his academic, extracurricular and cultural programs demonstrated his optimism about the potential for growth and advancement.

    Randolph, who hoped Claflin University would gain prominence as a liberal arts institution, also hoped that increased enrollment would serve as a catalyst for financial stability. At the time, Claflin was still supported financially by the Methodist Conference, the Board of Education for Negroes (formerly the Freedman’s Aid Society) and donations from supporters of the institution. The Board of Trustees offered some financial relief by tapping the endowment, and Dunton again assumed the task of fundraiser. Although the Methodist Conference increased its financial support, the University still seemed threatened with closure as the institution and her leaders faced the Great Depression. The seriousness of Claflin’s financial plight during the 1930s did not dampen the institution’s sense of pride or stall those academic improvements that could be undertaken without regard to resources or facilities. The dedication of Claflin's faculty and staff never faltered, and the catalogues continuously announced new educational features and innovations in the operation of the institution.

    Improvements inspired by Randolph included an update of the aims of the college, the initiation of Freshman Week at the beginning of each academic term and the installation of a vocational guidance program through which visitors were invited onto the campus to talk to students about career opportunities. By the time the United States had committed to World War II, Randolph had already given Claflin 21 years of service. The war effort gave a boost to the economy, but it reduced Claflin’s enrollment by as much as 35 percent. Despite the reduction in enrollment and an ever-present economic crunch, Randolph managed to keep the institution afloat.

    Randolph retired due to failing health In 1945. Although his tenure saw no expansion of the physical plant and minimal improvements in equipment and facilities, Randolph’s great success came in his ability to preserve Claflin and protect it from closure during one of the roughest times in the history of the United States.

  • Dr. John J. Seabrook (1945-1955)
    Past President Dr. John J. SeabrookDr. John J. Seabrook was selected as the fifth president of Claflin University in August 1945, becoming the first Claflin graduate to lead the institution. Seabrook attended both high school and college at Claflin before heading to Howard University Law School, where he received an LLB degree in 1926. The following year, he enrolled at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta and simultaneously studied at Clark University. In 1930, he was awarded an AB degree from Clark and a BD degree from Gammon. Seabrook has previously served as director of social services and president at Sam Houston College, as well as professor of philosophy and director of the Christian Center at Morgan State College.

    Upon returning to Claflin, Seabrook was tasked with putting Claflin on track financially and upgrading its academic standards. He sought to win the approval and acceptance of the various educational associations whose accreditations were necessary to achieve funding and academic credibility.
    Although encouraged by the fundraising efforts and optimism of Dunton, Seabrook was well aware of the social and economic climate in which he and Claflin’s students lived. Assistance to the institution was forthcoming, but in the post-war era, Claflin was expected to pull its own weight in a time of growth and advancement. For blacks, however, who were still denied equal access to every facet of American life, the struggle for financial independence continued to be arduous – and, at times, impossible.

    The civil rights movement spearheaded political and social initiatives for black Americans demanding to share the benefits of an era of prosperity. Seabrook envisioned a “bigger and better Claflin” that would include a broader curriculum and larger faculty with greater qualifications. Bringing a new enthusiasm to the institution, Seabrook began realizing his vision for his alma mater.

    As a first move, Seabrook sought to convince the South Carolina Conference to increase its annual giving to the University from $10,000 to $50,000. Only one year after assuming office, he began expanding and improving the physical plant. The Alumni Athletic Field was added, the T. Willard Lewis Chapel was modernized and the dining hall was converted into a cafeteria to increase its seating capacity. In 1947, the college infirmary, Pearson’s Music Studio and the Davage Heating Plant were also added to the physical plant.

    Seabrook also devoted his efforts to academic improvements. In 1947, he announced that the Committee of Approval of Negro Schools of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools had awarded Claflin University an “A” rating, and that the University had been approved by the South Carolina Department of Education for teacher training; by the Veterans Administration for veterans benefits; and also by the University Senate of the Methodist Church.

    Fundraising activities continued as Claflin students, alumni and friends rallied for expansion of the University. As part of Seabrook’s plan for academic expansion, the first summer school session was held in 1947. The following year, Claflin was approved for membership in the Association of American Colleges. By 1949, the academic program was finalized with four divisions: Economics, Humanities, Social Studies, and Science and Mathematics.

    On February 6, 1955, the Mary E. Dunton Dormitory was virtually destroyed. At the beginning of the 1955 academic year, Seabrook announced his acceptance of the presidency of Houston-Tillotson College and resigned his position at Claflin after 10 years. The Board of Trustees named an interim committee to oversee the institution while a search for a new president was launched.

  • The Interim Committee
    The year 1955 was historic for Claflin University: It was the first year in the institution’s 86-year history that there was no president. During this time, the institution’s financial problems seemed beyond resolution, and the fire in Mary E. Dunton Hall left the campus with only one dormitory. Outside of the campus, the social climate became even more tense, as members of Orangeburg’s black community began to organize against social injustice. Many students became actively involved in this struggle, which embroiled the campus in social and political conflict.

    Five members of the faculty and staff were selected to jointly make decisions concerning Claflin: Hampton D. Smith, the group’s chairman and acting chairman of the Division of Science and Mathematics; P. Palmer Worthy, acting chairman of the Division of Social Studies; J. Milton Shuler, registrar and acting chairman of the Division of Humanities; Robert Smart, bursar; and Leonard L. Haynes, dean of instruction.

    While the interim committee managed the institution, the Board of Trustees formed its own committee to review and assess Claflin as an educational institution. Entitled “A Study of the Future of Claflin College,” this report listed three major aims of the institution: to elect a new president, to erect a new dormitory and to chart an academic course with the objective that Claflin become a “unique institution of quality, in both students and faculty.”

  • Dr. Hubert V. Manning (1956-1984)
    Past President Dr. Hubert V. ManningIn 1956, Dr. Hubert V. Manning was chosen as the sixth president of Claflin. A graduate of and former instructor at Claflin, the 38-year-old Manning had the energy and enthusiasm necessary to lead Claflin. After only a few months in office, he initiated the “New Program” to improve all aspects of campus life and announced the construction of a dormitory to replace the one that was lost to fire. Though the core of his mission remained scholastic and philosophical growth, the physical plant also experienced substantial growth.

    Manning helped established re-accreditation for the University with the Southern Association of Colleges and Institutions in 1961. Pressing the association to re-examine the second-class status imposed on black colleges, Manning and other black college presidents worked diligently to ensure that historically black institutions were allowed full membership.

    Claflin University students also became involved in the civil rights movement taking shape across the U.S. On February 25, 1960, students from Claflin and neighboring South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical College were involved in a sit-in to desegregate the lunch counter at Kress in downtown Orangeburg. They were met with resistance, armed police, water hoses, tear gas, beatings and arrests. Claflin students remained determined and convinced that they were justified and would succeed. Three years later, with the support of Claflin's faculty, staff, Manning and students, the Orangeburg community organized the March of Mourning to mourn the death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

    The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the Educational Improvement Act of 1963 helped expand and improve higher education, especially at black colleges and universities. As a result, Claflin was awarded $48,300 from the National Education Improvement Act to upgrade the knowledge and skills of secondary school science teachers. Claflin also began to participate in programs offered by the government under the 1965 Higher Education Act.

    By 1966, Claflin’s enrollment exceeded 700, and the institution needed to add and replace facilities. Construction of the H.V. Manning Library began in Manning’s 10th year at Claflin. Manning considered obtaining full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as his greatest accomplishment. All faculty members held graduate degrees and many had their doctorate.

    Claflin continued to receive grants from the National Science Foundation and Upward Bound. To expand the physical plant, Manning planned for the completion of three additional buildings by the centennial. Claflin’s cultural pride surged through music, dance, drama and art. Prominent speakers and entertainers were frequent guests on campus. The Claflin University Collegiate Choir was invited to perform at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York. Claflin’s eighth president, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, was a choir member at this performance.

    In February 1965, the leader of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., visited Claflin. King's message promoted a peaceful pursuit of human rights and the maintenance of human dignity. Three years later, on February 8, 1968, while protesting against the continued segregation of the local bowling alley, three South Carolina State College students were killed, and 27 people - six of them from Claflin - were wounded when law enforcement officers opened fire on students on the campus of South Carolina State. Two months after that, King was assassinated. Claflin students - like students everywhere - pondered the stream of violence that ran through the country, and began acknowledging their African-American heritage and adopting an attitude of black pride.

    Claflin University observed its 100th birthday in 1969. The centennial homecoming celebration took place in November.

    During the first 20 years of the Manning administration, new buildings were constructed at a rate of one every two years. The library was completed in 1967 and named for Manning. The Whittaker V. Middleton Fine Arts Center was completed in 1968. The High Rise Dormitory was constructed in 1970, and the James S. Thomas Science Center in 1973. Dunwalton, the residence of the president, was constructed in 1971, and in 1980, Claflin opened the doors to the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.

    In 1976, Manning became president of the South Carolina Association of Colleges and Universities and president of the Council of Presidents of United Methodist Black Colleges. His achievements enhanced Claflin’s reputation, and his involvement in the academic activities of the institution remained constant until the end of his administration. By then, he had given Claflin 28 years of devoted service.

    During the last five years of Manning’s administration, Claflin was officially changed from a university to a college (1979) and Tingley Hall was recognized by the National Register of Historic Landmarks (1983). Manning retired at the end of the 1984 academic year. May 4, 1984, was declared “Dr. H.V. Manning Day” by Orangeburg Mayor E.O. Pendarvis.

  • Dr. Oscar A. Rogers (1984-1994)
    Past President Dr. Oscar A. RogersClaflin’s seventh president, Dr. Oscar Allen Rogers Jr., came from Jackson State University, where he served as dean of the graduate school. He received an AB degree from Tougaloo College, an STB degree in church history and practical theory at Harvard Divinity School, and an MAT degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Rogers earned an EdD from the University of Arkansas in 1960.

    When Dr. Rogers took office in July 1984, he had two main priorities - to affect better faculty salaries and a stronger financial base. He told the Claflin family and the Orangeburg community that fundraising would be his primary function, and that he would be “cultivating the market place” to attract funds and students.

    During Founders’ Day his first year, Rogers laid out his four-year plan for Claflin. Highlights included a fundraising campaign the following spring to reduce the institution’s accumulated deficit and capital indebtedness; renovating the buildings on which maintenance had been deferred; increasing enrollment to 800 students and staff training in various areas.

    While fundraising, faculty salaries and enrollment were his primary concerns, Rogers did not overlook Claflin’s cultural legacy. In November of his first year, he established an art collection for the college with the assistance of two prominent artists and Claflin graduates. Arthur Rose, formerly professor of art and head of Claflin’s Art Department, and Dr. Leo Twiggs, head of the Art Department at South Carolina State University, were to head the project to acquire works of art from other alumni artists. After the original collection was compiled, an alumni exhibition featured the donated works.

    Rogers involved the entire Claflin family in his first fundraising efforts – a phone-a-thon to raise $60,000. Alumni and supporters across the country were telephoned and asked to pledge to help the institution reach its goals. The phone-a-thon exceeded its goal by $7,000, but Rogers had even more ambitious plans. He turned his attention to fundraising efforts that would secure a U.S. Department of Education Title III challenge grant. Soliciting the help of alumni, faculty, staff and the Orangeburg community, the institution was able to raise the $150,000 necessary to match the grant.

    Renovations and expansion of Claflin’s physical plant were carried out under Rogers’ administration. Wilson Hall was demolished, the construction of a temporary women’s dorm was underway and Seabrook Gymnasium was converted into a student center. Renovations also took place on High-Rise Dormitory and the Lee Building.

    At the beginning of 1986, just one-and-a-half years into his administration, Rogers assessed the institution’s financial standing and reported that Claflin’s endowment, enhanced by $350,000 from the challenge grant, now stood at $1,356,000 – the largest in the history of the institution. Throughout Rogers' administration, Claflin’s alumni increased their membership in the association and their contributions to the alumni organization. They became significant supporters of the institution in many respects, and between 1986 and the end of the Rogers era, alumni contributed almost $2 million to Claflin.

    Through the rest of the 1980s, Claflin reported one success story after another in fundraising, student growth, and additional projects and programs on campus as the result of grants and awards from government, private corporations and foundations. A major initiative during that time was the Capital Campaign, which was officially launched in April 1986. The $3.5 million campaign was titled “Fulfilling a Special Need,” and funds were used for campus beautification, with a substantial share earmarked for the endowment.

    A significant addition to the campus under the Rogers administration was the $1.7 million Grace Thomas Kennedy Building, which houses the Department of Business Administration and the Department of English and Foreign Languages. This facility became symbolic of the unity of cooperation that existed under Rogers' administration.

    Several new organizations were also formed during Rogers’ term, including the Distinguished Board of Visitors, comprised of 48 professionals whose purpose was to provide ongoing assistance to Claflin. At the end of 1989, Rogers announced the end of a three-year Capital Campaign - and that it had raised $3,688,000. This money, matched with a Title III grant, were earmarked for campus renovations to include all four residence halls, property acquisitions and the endowment fund. The institution also conducted a second Capital Campaign, which raised $6.1 million.

    With Claflin having a broader and more secure financial base, the development of the physical facilities for the future became the focus of a 1990 study entitled “Claflin 2000.” This study provided a vision for physical development that, over 10 years, could become a reality. More importantly, it signified the confidence that Claflin had longevity as an institution of higher education.

    In 1992, Rogers announced his plans to retire June 30, 1994. He was credited with rescuing the college from financial hardship while still managing to upgrade facilities.

  • Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (1994-2019)
    Dr. Henry N. TisdaleDr. Henry N. Tisdale was named Claflin University’s eighth president in 1994, culminating a national yearlong search by the Board of Trustees. Tisdale, a 1965 honor graduate of the University, returned with the pledge that his alma mater “will enter the 21st century with an eye to becoming a premier liberal arts institution,” and that the Christian tradition on which it was founded would remain a part of the University. He also found it important to “create a sound fiscal system, a dynamic strategic planning process, a link between the budget and planning process, an enrollment plan, and an academic plan for excellence.” He wasted little time to deliver on his promise.

    Four months after his arrival, Tisdale announced the establishment of the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy totaling nearly $2 million, Tisdale identified three areas of concentration: strengthening academic programs in science, engineering and mathematics; renovating the James S. Thomas Science Center; and upgrading the Summer Science Camp for middle-school students. In addition to strengthening Claflin’s academic programs, the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics was implemented to increase the number of minorities receiving bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering and mathematics, thus incorporating a strategy to reverse the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines.

    Also in 1994, the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College was established.. With higher entry requirements, the Honors College works to prepare students for graduate and professional schools and leadership roles in their profession and society at large through learning experiences, academic advising, cultural enrichment and community service.

    Committed to the vision of making Claflin a premier liberal arts college, Dr. Tisdale implemented several programs. Claflin's state-of-the-art television production studio began producing local shows through a collaboration with Time Warner Cable. The award-winning Freshman College was established in 1996 to ease the transition into college life, and the Professional and Continuing Studies Center became a reality in 1997 after years of planning. Also in 1997, Claflin's Academic Plan for Excellence was implemented, and the Leadership Development Center was established.

    Also in 1997, the University kicked off its most ambitious Capital Campaign in Claflin’s history at the time - a five-year, $20 million campaign. The Peter and Eleanor A. Kleist Foundation made a $1 million gift to the University in support of the campaign, specifically the Living and Learning Center; a $1 million challenge grant was received from the Bush Foundation; a $1 million challenge grant was awarded from the Lilly Endowment; a $1 million gift was received from an anonymous donor; and gifts of $50,000 and $250,000 were given from Dr. and Mrs. James and Dorothy Z. Elmore. The $20 million goal was surpassed in three years and reached more than $30 million in 2002.

    One of the crown jewels of the facilities enhancement effort was the completion in 1998 of the three-building Living and Learning Center. Named for Peter and Eleanor Kleist, the complex includes a four-story residence hall configured in suites with computer laboratories and study rooms, a leadership development center and a campus center. To complement the Living and Learning Center, give better access to the campus and create a more appealing appearance, a new entrance was completed and won the statewide Outstanding Downtown Revitalization Award. In 2000, three new parking lots were developed and a new Goff Street entrance was added.

    In 1999, with support provided by a grant from the National Park Service, historic Ministers’ Hall underwent major restoration and now serves as a performing arts facility. In 1999, the interior of the building was named the Ernest A. Finney Jr. Auditorium, in honor of South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney, a Claflin graduate. That same year, the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to restore the institution to its original historic name, Claflin University. Another event that year was the naming of the Arthur E. Rose Museum in honor of the distinguished graduate and professor.

    In 2003, the University restored Tingley Memorial Hall and renovated the H.V. Manning Library. In 2004, the University constructed the $15 million Student Residential Center comprised of four residential facilities and the new University Dining Center for students and faculty. The new $2 million Music Center was also constructed to house the nationally accredited music program. In 2005, Claflin broke ground for its new $3 million chapel to replace the T. Willard Lewis Chapel, which had been demolished in 1968 to make room for the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. That same year, the University earned the S.C. Preservation Honors Award for the restoration of Ministers’ Hall, Tingley Memorial Hall and Lee Library, and Claflin launched its second graduate program, a Master of Science in Biotechnology.

    In 2006, the University did a complete makeover of the Mary E. Dunton Residential Hall for women. In early 2007, the newly built chapel was consecrated and named the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel in honor of the husband and wife whose $250,000 challenge grant inspired more than 2,000 supporters to contribute to the $3 million building. A permanent marker was erected at the site of the old chapel.

    By 2008, the student population of 1994 had doubled. Students came from 26 states and 15 countries, and the pool of applicants was more than 3,000. The campus had also doubled in size, undergoing more than $50 million in renovations and improvements. The student/faculty ratio was 12:1, and 80 percent of faculty held terminal degrees in their fields. That same year, Claflin was ranked the top HBCU in the country by Forbes.com and listed in the top four percent of all colleges and universities in the nation.

    Many more developments have occurred since 2008. Claflin consistently has been ranked as a “Best Buy” and a national liberal arts institution by U. S. News and World Report. The University’s Molecular Research Center has been designated a core research facility by the South Carolina Research Authority and, the University is in the final phase of a $100 million Capital Campaign. Additionally, the University has launched fully online undergraduate and graduate programs and constructed a $12.5 million residential facility for men and women with amenities for health and wellness and a revised strategic initiative that drives the University’s desired goals during the early part of the 21st Century. Under Tisdale’s administration, alumni support has soared to a high of 52.2 percent, which led all historically black colleges and universities.

    Throughout his career, Dr. Tisdale has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors in recognition of his exceptional and transformative leadership. He is the recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award and the Higher Education Leadership Foundation Award. In September 2008, the town of Kingstree, in recognition of the extraordinary achievements of their native son, erected a lasting tribute, six highway markers proclaiming Kingstree, South Carolina the “Home of Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, The Eighth President of Claflin University.” Dr. Tisdale’s other recent honors include the 2008 CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) District III Chief Executive Leadership Award, the 2007 Milliken Medal of Quality Award, 2007 BellSouth Honoree, the I. DeQuincey Newman Humanitarian Award, the NAFEO (National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education) Distinguished Alumni Award, Who’s Who Among Black Americans and the NAACP Educator of the Year Award. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Hofstra University and South Carolina State University.

    Over the years, Dr. Tisdale also has served on many committees, councils, boards and task forces at both the state and national levels. He is a member of the Board of Directors of UNCF, American Council on Education Commission on Effective Leadership, UNCF Special Programs Board of Directors, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges Council of Presidents, the HBCU-ETS Steering Committee and a member of Governor Nikki Haley’s Transition Team. He is a member of the Claflin University National Alumni Association, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Orangeburg Rotary Club and Trinity United Methodist Church.

    Dr. Tisdale and his wife, the late Alice Carson Tisdale, have two children, Danica Camille Tisdale Fisher and Brandon Keith Tisdale and a grandson, Asa Toure Fisher.

  • Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack (2019-Present)

    Dr. WarmackDr. Dwaun J. Warmack began his tenure as the ninth president of Claflin University on August 1, 2019, joining the pantheon of distinguished leaders of the first historically black college or university in South Carolina.Dr. Warmack was selected by the Claflin University Board of Trustees based on his commitment to academic integration and the holistic development of students. He is committed to developing programs that promote diversity, pluralism and cultural competency. Throughout his career, he has championed inclusion, academic excellence and the retention of underrepresented students. Over the years, he has presented more than 120 diversity and leadership presentations and workshops to an array of individuals and groups.  At Claflin University, Dr. Warmack will remain committed to excellence and to move the university forward to higher levels of national distinction and recognitions.

     Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Warmack served as president of Harris-Stowe State University for five years. He has more than 20 years of progressive administrative experience in higher education at five distinct institutions. Dr. Warmack provided leadership to more than 450 full and part-time faculty and staff and had oversight of a budget in excess of $32 million.  Under his tenure, Harris-Stowe witnessed a transformation, unheralded in its 160-year history.  Dr. Warmack shepherded more than $15 million in external funding to the institution, including a $5 million grant, the largest in the institution’s history. 

    Dr. Warmack is a scholar-practitioner and possesses a wealth of experience in program design, faculty, student development, assessment and accreditation. His trajectory in higher education has been extraordinary. Prior to his appointment as president of Harris-Stowe, he served as the senior vice president, administration and student services at Bethune-Cookman University, overseeing a staff of 170. Among his several successes at that institution, Dr. Warmack provided oversight of a multi-million dollar renovation of the institution’s residence halls. Prior to his tenure at Bethune-Cookman, he served as the associate dean of students at Rhodes College in Memphis, where he led the department of Student Affairs in judicial affairs, student activities, Greek life, new student and parent orientation and multicultural affairs. He also held positions at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and Delta State University. 

    A visionary with a unique understanding and appreciation for today’s Generation Z students, Dr. Warmack provides a brand of leadership that is characterized by an unqualified insistence on data driven decision-making and a commitment to higher education’s current best practices. 

    To bolster his executive acumen, Dr. Warmack has participated in a variety of professional development opportunities, including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI), and Hampton University’s “On The Road to the Presidency: Executive Leadership Summit.” In 2019, Dr. Warmack was selected and conducted global research as an Eisenhower Fellow. 

    Dr. Warmack was named the Delta State University “Black Alumnus of the Year” and was inducted into the institution’s Hall of Fame. Other awards and recognitions for his work in higher education and the community include but not limited to, Delux Magazine Power 100 “Trailblazer Award” Recipient, St. Louis Business Journal “40 under 40”, St. Louis American “Salute to Excellence Young Leader Award”, The Rickey Smiley Foundation “Trailblazer Award”, Who’s Who in Color Most Intriguing People and “Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2018”. 

    Dr. Warmack was appointed as Chairman of the Missouri Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Statewide Commission in 2015 and served as Chairman for four years. He previously served on the boards of the Cortex Innovation Community, the Saint Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Muny, the Greater St. Louis Area Council Boy Scouts of America and Millennium Leadership Initiative Executive Steering Committee. Other past board memberships include the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) Foundation, and the Alumni Board of Directors for Delta State University. Dr. Warmack is a peer reviewer with the Higher Learning Commission, the largest regional accreditation body in the United States.   

    Dr. Warmack earned a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in sociology from Delta State University. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in higher education from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and his post-doctoral studies in educational leadership at Harvard University School of Education. Dr. Warmack is married to LaKisha Warmack and they have one daughter, Morgan.

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