About Dr. Henry N. Tisdale

A native of Kingstree, South Carolina, and a 1965 magna cum laude graduate of Claflin University, Dr. Tisdale returned to his alma mater as its eighth president in 1994.

Described as a high energy and visionary president, Dr. Tisdale, in the tradition of Claflin’s presidents, has been a servant leader while also overseeing tremendous growth in all areas of the University’s campus and academic endeavors. During his nearly 20 years as president, Dr. Tisdale’s reputation for accomplishment, generating momentum, demonstrating commitment and his strategic approach to advancing Claflin have established him as a prominent influence in higher education. 

Dr. Tisdale’s inaugural pledge to place Claflin University among the premier liberal arts institutions in America was achieved when, in August 2008, Forbes.com listed the University as the top Historically Black College or University in the country and ranked Claflin in the top four percent nationally in their first-ever rankings of “America’s Best Colleges.” U.S. News and World Report’s “Guidebook to America’s Best Colleges” has included Claflin in its “Top Tier” rankings among comprehensive baccalaureate granting institutions in the South for 14 consecutive years. In its 2012 ranking, Claflin reached a new plateau: For the first time, it was ranked in the top tier of national liberal arts colleges and universities. Claflin was also ranked #1 in alumni giving among HBCUs. Claflin continues to expand its national exposure #10 ranking among the nation’s baccalaureate colleges and universities from the Washington Monthly.

Under Dr. Tisdale's leadership, the University's academic accomplishments include:

  • An enhanced and increased enrollment by 85 percent.

  • The addition of new academic majors that include mass communications, criminal justice, digital art, computer science, computer engineering, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics, psychology, the Master of Science in biotechnology and the Master of Business Administration.

  • National accreditation for business administration, teacher education, music and chemistry.

Campus Expansion

Claflin’s historic 50-acre campus has been completely transformed with many new buildings and facilities. These include the Living and Learning Center, the Student Residential Center, Kleist Hall, the University Dining Center, the Music Center, the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel and the Molecular Science Research Center. Picturesque landscaping includes Legacy Plaza and the award-winning campus entrances which have enhanced the University’s classic architectural design and layout. Numerous buildings throughout the campus have been extensively renovated or significantly restored and upgraded. The campus property continues to expand through acquisitions which include the Russell Street campus. 

Dr. Tisdale’s Background in Higher Education

From 1987 to 1994, Dr. Tisdale served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware.

From 1986 to 1987, he served as Assistant Academic Dean for Administration, Planning and Information Management at Delaware State University. 

In 1985, he was selected by the American Council on Education Center for Leadership Development in Washington, D.C., to serve as an ACE Fellow in Academic Administration. Dr. Tisdale served a full academic year in a mentor/internship relationship with Dr. E.A. Trabant, president of the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.

During his 24-year tenure at Delaware State University, Dr. Tisdale served in several other capacities, including as Assistant Director of Institutional Research and Planning (1978-1985); Professor of Mathematics (1969-1985); and Instructor, Summer Engineering Institute (1978-1985). Prior to these positions in higher education, he taught mathematics in the Philadelphia School System (1965-1969).

Dr. Tisdale graduated magna cum laude from Claflin University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (1965). At Temple University, he was awarded a Master of Education degree in Mathematics (1967) then a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from Dartmouth College (1975). This was followed by a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mathematics from Dartmouth College (1978). He received Honorary Doctorate degrees from South Carolina State University (2004) and Hofstra University (2009).

Dr. Tisdale’s Awards, Recognitions and Titles

Throughout his career, Dr. Tisdale has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In September 2008, the town of Kingstree, in recognition of the extraordinary achievements of its 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 Council for Advancement and Support of Education District III Chief Executive Leadership Award, the 2007 Milliken Medal of Quality Award, a 2007 BellSouth Honoree, the I. DeQuincey Newman Humanitarian Award, the 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.

Over the years, Dr. Tisdale served on many committees, councils, boards and task forces at both the state and national levels. Additionally, he has published and presented widely in areas of probability theory and issues in higher education.

Dr. Tisdale 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, Alice Carson Tisdale, have two children, Danica Camille Tisdale Fisher and Brandon Keith.