Claflin News

Claflin University President, First Lady make $250,000 gift to the University

Mar 28, 2013

Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale today announced their gift of $250,000 to the University.  The couple presented a check during an event held on the Claflin campus. The gift will fund an endowed professorship in the sciences and provide support for other academic programs and scholarships, including  athletics.

“This establishment of the endowed professorship represents our personal and sacrificial commitment for something that is very near and dear to our hearts,” said Dr. Tisdale, a 1965 graduate and the University’s eighth president appointed in 1994.

Dr. and Mrs. Tisdale made their announcement and presentation at the Claflin University Molecular Science Research Center, designated a core research facility by the South Carolina Research Authority.  This was a fitting backdrop for the gift because $150,000 of the funds will endow a professorship in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.   Establishing such an endowment ensures the perpetual recruitment and retention of top faculty, teachers, scholars and mentors in the sciences.  The Tisdales believe this will ultimately increase the numbers of young African Americans choosing and excelling in careers in STEM.

“The overall purpose of establishing the Endowed Professorship in STEM is to help bolster the success of African-Americans in the STEM fields,” said Dr. Tisdale.  “It has been documented over and over again that African-Americans are severely underrepresented in the STEM disciplines,” he said.

According to recent statistics by the National Center for Education, the numbers of African Americans earning degrees in the STEM disciplines have fallen in the last decades.  The Center found that African-Americans now receive about seven percent of STEM bachelor’s degrees (a one percent drop); four percent of master’s degrees and only two percent of doctorate degrees.  These staggering numbers, along with the Tisdales’ passion for education, are key factors driving their move to establish the endowed professorship.

The Tisdales’ gift will also support two endowed scholarships, one for the Alice Carson Tisdale Endowed Scholarship in Education, and the other for the Henry N. Tisdale Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics.  Moreover, the gift provides scholarship support for students in other disciplines and student athletes.

“At heart, we are both career educators.  We’ve committed our lives to helping students achieve success,” said Mrs. Tisdale, director of the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College. 

Students representing the department of education and the STEM fields of study attended today’s event.  They were recognized for their accomplishments as they work toward earning degrees in these very critical fields.

“These young people are the reason why we are here.  They represent the caliber of student that will benefit from this support,” said Mrs. Tisdale.  “These are our visionary leaders of tomorrow - future scholars, teachers, scientists, and artists – on the brink of greatness, who we hope will help to solve some of the great challenges of our world in both the sciences and education,” she said.

The first lady’s remarks resonated with Breanna James, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, and Darien Woods, who wants to teach social studies and English.
“After graduation I am going to graduate school for a master’s degree in speech pathology and later start my own private practice for children with speech disorders and special needs,” said James.

Woods has similar ambitions.

“I plan to attend graduate school, attain a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  I want to teach social studies and English at the start of my career.  Later, I plan to teach music after studying at Juilliard,” Woods said.

Dr. and Mrs. Tisdale’s gift resolutely supports a major cornerstone of the Campaign for Claflin University, the institution’s historic $96.4 million capital campaign designated in part to building the institution’s endowment. 

Accepting the gift, capital campaign general chair James Bennett said the Tisdales are demonstrating their commitment to Claflin’s mission.

“Now the world is seeing what we’ve always known here at Claflin, and that is, Dr. and Mrs. Tisdale are committed to making this University the best in the world,” said Bennett.  “When I look at the inner family contributions to this campaign it’s phenomenal.  At no time have we had to ask for something we aren’t doing for ourselves.  Because of you, we are confident that we reach the finish line.”

Claflin Board of Trustees chair Paul V. Fant said the Tisdale gift will inspire others to invest in Claflin’s legacy of excellence in education.

“I thank Dr. and Mrs. Tisdale for this very generous gift.  With it, we continue to focus on attracting and retaining the best and the brightest faculty, staff, and students,” Fant said.

Claflin University was established in 1869.  It is a national liberal arts institution quickly gaining prominence in the arena of top undergraduate research and teaching institutions in the nation.  Claflin enrolls approximately 2,000 students from 27 states and 17 countries.  Claflin continues to gain national recognition for its academic programs and faculty achievements.  Among them, recognized Claflin among the top 12% of colleges and universities in the nation, while the U.S. News & World Report ranked Claflin nationally among institutions of higher learning. Claflin also boasts four faculty named as South Carolina Governor’s Professors of the Year and two finalists for the same award.


About the Donors

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.

During his 19 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. 

Under his leadership, Claflin continues to be recognized among the top liberal arts institutions in the nation.  Dr. Tisdale graduated magna cum laude from Claflin University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (1965).  He earned a Master of Education degree in Mathematics from Temple University (1967), then a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics from Dartmouth College (1975). He was the first African American to receive 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 is a member of the 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.

Mrs. Alice Carson Tisdale

Alice Carson Tisdale hails from Dover, Delaware. 

Mrs. Tisdale received the Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and earned a Master of Education degree in reading diagnosis and remediation from Salisbury State University, Salisbury, Maryland. 

     Mrs. Tisdale has written and published:  An Agenda for Success:  Restructuring Middle Level Education in the State of Delaware   and   APEX:  Reaching the Top!  An Alternative Program for Middle Level Education. 


She received the District Teacher of the Year award while teaching in the Smyrna School District, Smyrna, Delaware where she taught for more than 20 years.  In 1991, she received the State Chamber of Commerce “Superstars! In Education Award” from the State of Delaware for innovative teaching strategies and the “NAACP Educator of the Year Award” from the Dover, Delaware, Central Branch of the NAACP.  In 2004, she was awarded the “Outstanding Director of the Year” by The National Association of African American Honors Programs.  Additional awards include the 2011 “Community Service Award” from the Delta Zeta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Mrs. Tisdale currently serves many organizations, among these: Appointment by Governor Nikki Haley to the Governor’s Mansion and Lace House Commission; National Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of African American Honors Programs; and Board Chair of the Orangeburg County Community of Character.  She is a member and Co-Founder/Director of the “Praise Kids” children’s Christian theater at Trinity United Methodist Church, Orangeburg, SC; member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Beta Zeta Omega Chapter; and The Links, Incorporated, Orangeburg Chapter. 

Dr. and Mrs. Tisdale are the proud parents of two grown children, Danica C. Tisdale Fisher, PhD, of Claremont, California and Brandon Keith Tisdale who resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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