Claflin University continues to be recognized among the nation’s leading institutions by esteemed and reputable organizations. In a recent development, the University has been chosen one of nine historically black colleges and universities nationwide to help the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation set about transforming higher education.
Claflin University has been awarded a $75,000 grant through the foundation’s HBCUs Pursuing Transformative Change initiative, which challenges institutions to develop transformative changes that will ensure student access and success at institutions in the 21st century. The University has met with representatives from the foundation to demonstrate first-hand how Claflin has transformed itself into one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions and its plans for the future in regards to the foundation’s initiative.
“We are charged with working with other leading universities throughout the nation to create the future of higher education,” President Henry N. Tisdale said. “We are excited to be recognized by the Gates Foundation for our continuous work in realizing our vision, which is to be recognized as one of the premier undergraduate teaching and research universities in the world that prepares effective and visionary leaders with global perspectives.”
Claflin was part of an initial core group of HBUCs that met with the Gates Foundation in Seattle, Wash., in February to begin the conversation. The University was among 20 HBCUs invited to submit a conceptual plan to transform Claflin and was selected by the foundation to take part in the next phase of the initiative – a co-creation process that examines the goals, process and supports needed for institutional transformation – which began in late summer and ends in December.
Claflin has established a planning team to determine what changes could be instituted at the University to enhance student success not only at Claflin but also at universities nationwide. To that end, Claflin has held town hall and focus group meetings.
The HBCUs Pursuing Transformative Change initiative’s goal is to improve outcomes for all students by creating a system of higher education that addresses the challenges more and more students face when transitioning to college, namely having poor academic and personal support, being shuffled into inflexible learning pathways that don’t meet their needs and taking on substantial debt as public support wanes, among others.
HBCUs are just one cohort in the conversation. Large state schools, two-year colleges and other institutions are also joining in the conversation to transform higher education as a whole.
“We are a part of this transformative movement,” Tisdale said. “It is a total Claflin initiative. It will only work of there is wide support throughout the institution.”
In addition to Claflin, HBCUs selected to participate in the initiative are Delaware State, Dillard, Fayetteville State, Jackson State, Johnson C. Smith, Morehouse, Spelman and Xavier.