Claflin President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale outlined a theme of “vision, decision and progress” at the University’s Matriculation Day Convocation on Thursday, an annual assembly that officially launches the new academic year.
“Matriculation Day offers a great opportunity each year for us to celebrate our successes, to forge ahead and to chart our course for another academic year in the history of this great University,” Tisdale said.
While highlighting Claflin’s achievements over the last year – including the University surpassing the $68 million mark in a $96.4 million capital campaign and successful accreditation visits for two of its academic programs – Tisdale warned against becoming complacent.
“This year, we will be having a year-long conversation about the future of Claflin University,” he said. “Change is in the air. Economic conditions continue to be challenging and unpredictable for everyone, especially higher education.
“We can no longer do business as usual. If we hold on to the status quo, we run the risk of being blown away by the winds of change.”
At least one change unveiled at this year’s Convocation was Claflin’s refreshed “VISIONARY” branding campaign. Students and other Convocation attendees were given drawstring bags featuring an updated logo centered on the University’s tagline “The World Needs Visionaries.”
The refreshed branding campaign aims to offer a clearer focus and vision for the university, accentuating Claflin’s “VISIONARY” perspective in terms of leadership, service, research, success, technology, innovation, citizenship, creativity, globalization and excellence.
“The campaign will further promote the brand promise, and essentially the achievements and contributions of the University,” Tisdale said.
To build on the achievements and contributions of the University, Tisdale said now is the time for Claflin to reflect on how higher education is changing, what is driving that change and how the institution can differentiate itself from other institutions of higher learning.
“Through these conversations, I want us to chart a course for the future of Claflin University,” Tisdale said. “And as we respond to questions, as we reflect, as we bring forth new ideas, decisions will need to be made.”
Among those decisions that must be made are how to make education more affordable for parents and students, how to extend the University’s reach globally, and how to begin offering digital learning opportunities at Claflin.
“Work has been going on for over a year towards this initiative,” Tisdale said. “We expect, and I believe, that this will be the year that Claflin makes that decision.
“We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines – we must become players in offering digital opportunities to earn a college education.”
Tisdale said he hopes such an initiative will be ready for students to use in the summer of 2014.
He said progress has occurred in other areas at the University and will continue throughout the year. This past summer, Tisdale said renovations took place in some offices and other areas on campus. He said a new student health center has also opened. And work will begin immediately on a new student housing complex, to be completed in August 2014.
“As we enter the new academic year, we must recommit ourselves to the vision, and the vision is that Claflin University will be recognized as one of the premiere undergraduate teaching and research universities in the world that prepares effective and ethical visionary leaders with global perspectives,” he said. “In this year of vision, decision and progress, we must remember that we are not where we want to be yet.
“I believe the time is right, the potential is great, the solid foundation has been laid, and there is a window of opportunity for us all.”