Claflin president announces retirement; faculty and students sing his praises

Apr 18, 2018
2018 PANTHER tisdale retiring

Dr. Henry N. Tisdale announces Tuesday he will retire in 2019 as Claflin president. (Panther photo by Olanma Hazel Mang)

The president of Claflin University, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, announced his retirement during a press conference on April 17 at Ministers’ Hall.

The retirement date is June 30, 2019, Tisdale said during his speech. He thanked the faculty, staff, donors, board of directors and alumni for their work in achieving the university’s goals.

“Today, I can say that, for the past two decades, because of our collective work, a strong foundation has been built to ensure the future,” Tisdale said.

He also highlighted the university’s accomplishments throughout his 24-year tenure. Some of which include:

  • The Capital Campaign that raised more than $105 million.
  • The MSRC building that houses the second largest nuclear magnetic reactor in South Carolina.
  • An increase in students enrolled in the Honors College from 84 students in 1994 to 250 students today.

The president pledged to continue to work diligently for the remainder of his term.

“Over the next year, I commit to keeping the university moving forward on an upward trajectory as we pursue our new vision of Claflin as a leading 21st century institution,” he said.

Tisdale also announced that his wife, Alice Carson Tisdale, will be leaving the university. “We came together, and we’ll leave together,” he said.

In an interview after the conference, Mrs. Tisdale said she would miss everything about Claflin, especially the people.

Claflin students and faculty were shocked at the announcement. However, many commended the president for his accessibility to the students and his work in the university.

“He always gives me sound advice on things to try to encourage the students to do,” said Caroletta Ivey, assistant professor of criminal justice. “It's not so often you get that from the president of an institution.”

Ivey has taught at the university for 10 years.

Newly elected Mister Claflin Eric Favor, said, “He's very caring. I know when we had those students die, he was at every single funeral.”

His comments were in reference to the student deaths of the fall 2017-18 semester.

Jordan Jones, a senior sports management major, said, “Tisdale knew how to relate to students. He was a student here himself, so he's seen Claflin from a student's perspective.”

Rachael Woods, an instructor and laboratory safety manager, said, “I feel sad because I think he's a great president. I've seen the progress through my matriculation from 2004 up until now.”

Woods is a 2009 Claflin alumna and has been working at the university for three years.

Some spoke about Tisdale’s accomplishments that were significant to them.

Orneika Flandrin, an international student from Jamaica, said, “It would definitely be with Alice Carson Tisdale to form the honors college because it has helped a lot of us get here as international students.”

Freshman Reagan Hill, a biology major and a student in the Honors college, also commended Mrs. Tisdale on her role in the program.

“We need somebody who can still uphold that standard to the Honors College because there's nobody like Mrs. Tisdale,” Hill said. “She cares about you; she wants to see you succeed.”

“I think his biggest accomplishment, while I was here, is the Capital Campaign,” Favor said. “That's something he could take as a legacy.”

The common consensus among faculty and students was that the next president had big shoes to fill.

“I want to see the same love that Tisdale gave to us,” said Jazmine Prince, a freshman art education major.

“I definitely hope to see the confidence in the university,” SGA President Jessica Tolbert said. “Whoever is the next leader of Claflin University, I definitely charge them with the same passion and vision that President Tisdale had.”

Freshman sociology major Makalaya Vereen said, “I can see that [Tisdale] really cares for Claflin overall and he's reasonable. I’d like to see that in the next president.”

Ishawn Francis, a junior biology major from Trinidad and Tobago, said, “I think [the next president] should start building student life activities on campus because Orangeburg doesn't really have much.”

Woods said, “They're gonna have to keep the ball rolling with raising funds for the university, being sure you have that alumni interaction and keeping the community involved and being engaged.”

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