‘This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,’ new president says in first speech

Sep 25, 2019

President Dwaun J. Warmack flashes a thumbs up to his new support system as he speaks to Claflin for the 151st Matriculation Day. (Panther photo by Tariq Edwards)

Claflin’s new president, Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, gave his first official speech to the university family at the 151st Matriculation Day Convocation on Sept. 18.

Warmack, who succeeded Dr. Henry N. Tisdale in August, first addressed the student body.

“Students, this is about you. My whole conversation today will be about you.”

He cited a special bond with the freshman class, as the students join him in being new to the campus.

“I want to especially recognize the class of 2023. I’m slightly biased,” he said. “We came in together. The class of 2023 will be the best class to ever come through Claflin University. I’m expecting big things from you.”

He also recognized the sophomore and junior classes before telling seniors: “I encourage you to take the knowledge and wisdom that you’ve gained at this institution and go out to be global leaders and make this institution proud.”

Warmack said he will focus on new opportunities for students, the university and the City of Orangeburg. “It is my goal to build on a legacy while transcending into the future,” he said.

“In the spirit of Claflin confidence, I will focus on five ‘Cs’ that will give us success in the future.”

  • Cutting-edge enterprise -- An institution is not an amazing institution if it doesn’t have cutting-edge faculty and outstanding academic programs.
  • Continuing improvements in student success and student engagement. Students will have a holistic educational experience in and out of class. 
  • Challenging alumni and supporters to give money for a student center. Students will have a place to go and have a good experience.
  • Creative technology and global strategies. Every student will graduate Claflin as a global leader and hopefully infuse global experience into his or her learning experience.
  • Consistent “friend-raising” and fundraising. Claflin will continue to be out front in raising money.

Warmack said he is proud of Claflin’s latest national ranking.

“You know the rankings came out the other day. And I heard the rumbling. ‘Claflin dropped from number seven to number nine. This new, young president coming in, messing things up.

“Well, I want to put in context to you these rankings. Yes, Claflin was ranked number nine amongst all historically black colleges and universities, and that needs to be celebrated, as in the top 10. Claflin was the only HBCU ranked in the top 10 amongst those regional institutions.”

Warmack referenced a quote by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle: “Understanding nothing really worthwhile happens overnight.”

He spoke about a young man with a troubled background from Detroit who grew up in an unstable environment and defeated all the odds.

“Once that young man finished high school, he was told he wasn’t college material, that he could never go to college because of his circumstances and his environment, who he grew up around, what his family lineage was,” he said. “But it wasn’t because that young man wasn’t smart. He was a product of his environment. And sometimes you just deserve a shot to get out of your environment.”

That same young man was given the opportunity to go to school. He was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree at 21, a master’s at 22, a second one at 23 and a doctorate before he was even 30 years old.

 “This was the same young man that folks said wasn’t college material,” he said. “And I stand before you today to tell you, that young man was me, and so, I understand the struggle.”

He used his story to encourage students.

“It’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish. And don’t let anyone speak negativity over your life. You can do whatever you decide to do if you put your mind to it,” he said.

Progress takes time, he said. “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, students.”





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