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About Claflin

Claflin University was founded in 1869 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.”

THE PRESIDENTS OF CLAFLIN UNIVERSITY

Dr. Alonzo Webster (1869-1874)
Dr. Edward Cooke (1874-1884)
Dr. Lewis M. Dunton (1884-1922)
Dr. Joseph B. Randolph (1922-1945) - First African-American president
Dr. John J. Seabrook (1945-1955) - First alumni president
Dr. Hubert V. Manning (1956-1984)
Dr. Oscar A. Rogers (1984-1994)
Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (1994- ) - First alumni lay president




Dr. Alonzo Webster

Dr. Alonzo Webster was appointed the institution’s first president at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 31, 1870. 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 his efforts to raise funds for the institution, Webster traveled the state extensively, speaking on the virtues of Claflin and its to the state and to the world. One of his most ambitious plans for Claflin involved the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which legislated the donation of public land to states and other territories to be sold, with the invested interest from the proceeds used to fund agricultural and mechanical colleges. 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, 1872, which assured state funding for the institution.
Webster maintained joint presidency of both Claflin University and the agricultural college. Although he remained steadfast in his pursuit of state funding for Claflin, the government was not responsive to Webster’s requests, and the University was soon left without state government support. Webster again tirelessly solicited support for the University, seeking help from one of Claflin’s earliest benefactors, William Claflin, and eventually assumed responsibility for the debt himself.
Although Webster’s term lasted less than five years - he resigned as president on June 5, 1874 - his greatest contributions to the institution are his efforts for political and financial support, and the pride and determination he possessed and instilled in students of the University. Webster served as a member of Claflin's Board of Trustees until 1886. He died in 1887 at the age of 70.

   Dr. Edward Cooke

Webster's successor was the Rev. Dr. Edward Cooke, a graduate of Wesleyan University, Harvard University and McKendree College. When he took the reins in 1874, Claflin owned its campus as well as the 116 acres of adjoining land that Webster had purchased as an experimental farm for the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Institute. Claflin had more than 300 students, and continued to see a steady increase in enrollment from elementary to college levels. Despite its financial challenges, the institution was also gaining a reputation for its curriculum under the direction of Cooke, who was acknowledged for his scholarly merit. He continued to work for the political and financial support the institution so desperately needed.
A setback came on January 15, 1876, when a fire destroyed the university’s main building. That fire, coupled with the realization that the Agricultural and Mechanical Institute was operating at a deficit, added to the mounting fiscal challenges of the institution. Cooke found that contributions to the institution from Southern supporters were inadequate to meet the University’s growing needs. In 1877, 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 changing the opinion in the South with regard to Claflin University.
By 1878, Claflin had a new main building on campus. Along with rebuilding the campus, Cooke introduced a number of academic innovations. 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 in 1879, 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.

   Dr. Lewis M. Dunton

The 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 Cazenonia 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

Prior 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

Dr. 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

In 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

Claflin’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. Tisdale

  Dr. Henry N. Tisdale

After a yearlong search, the board announced that Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, a 1965 graduate of Claflin, would be the college’s eighth president. Tisdale had many plans for the college, predicting that Claflin College “will enter the 21st century with an eye to becoming a premier liberal arts institution,” and that the Christian tradition and individual attention to students that the institution was known for would remain a part of Claflin. He found it important to “create a sound fiscal system at the college, a dynamic strategic planning process, a link between the budget and planning process, an enrollment plan, and an academic plan for excellence.”
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, Tisdale’s Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics aims to significantly increase the number of minorities receiving bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering and mathematics, thus incorporating a strategy to reverse the decline in the number of minorities who enter graduate and professional schools in these disciplines.
In 1994, the honors program was restructured by the president and Mrs. Alice Carson Tisdale and renamed the Claflin Honors College. With higher entry standards, the Honors College - now known as the Alice Carson Tisdale 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, enhancing the honors students’ experience on every level.
President Tisdale’s priorities for Claflin also include its presentation of and appreciation for arts and cultural programs. Tisdale led the college toward a new cultural awareness and rekindled pride in the talents and artistic traditions prominent in Claflin’s history.
In 1995, Tisdale presided over the homecoming celebrations, which culminated a yearlong series of events and activities in commemoration of Claflin’s 125th anniversary. Homecoming weekend had among its highlights the first annual Presidential Scholarship Gala, which raised more than $65,000 for Presidential Scholarships.
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 Claflin College Leadership Development Center was established.
In 1996, a survey was completed that became a road map for the physical plant improvements that are so obvious on the campus today. In addition to the restoration of several of the campus buildings, Asbury, Dunton and Corson Residence Halls for women were air-conditioned, and the HVAC system in the High-Rise was replaced. In 1995, the University developed its first fully functional bookstore, and in 1996, the Orange and Maroon Club became a faculty and staff dining room.
One of the crown jewels of the facilities 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.
With assistance 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.
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 1997, the University kicked off its most ambitious Capital Campaign in Claflin’s history to date - 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.
In 1999, Tisdale and the Claflin College Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to restore the institution to its original historic name, Claflin University. That same year, the Arthur E. Rose Museum was established in honor of the distinguished graduate and professor.
In 2003, the University held a ribbon-cutting for the Russell Street Campus and opened its Visitor Center. Claflin also restored Tingley Memorial Hall and Lee Library - home of the Arthur Rose Museum - 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.
Tisdale was awarded the 2007 Milliken Medal of Quality in recognition of his demonstrated leadership, innovation, achievement and vision. No other leader of a higher education institution in South Carolina had ever won this award. Tisdale was also recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education with the 2008 CASE District III Chief Executive Leadership Award. During this time, Claflin University’s School of Natural Science and Mathematics, in partnership with the University of South Carolina, opened the Molecular Virology Laboratory on Claflin’s campus. The school also graduated its first Master of Science in Biotechnology class and awarded its first Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering. The School of Education graduated its first Master of Education in Educational Studies class, and the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies launched a degree program at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia and at Fort Jackson. In advancing its mission of community outreach, Claflin University, in partnership with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety, established a forensic laboratory at DPS headquarters on Middleton Street.
By 2008, the student population of 1994 had almost 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 74 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 country. Claflin University is now recognized as one of the premier liberal arts institutions in the nation.
Claflin continues to grow and change under Tisdale's leadership. This year, 2014, marks his 20th anniversary at the University.