Claflin University

400 Magnolia Street 
Orangeburg SC 29115 

(803) 535-5000

Claflin University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Claflin University
Claflin University Seal.png
Motto The World Needs Visionaries
Type Private, HBCU
Established 1869
Affiliation United Methodist Church
Endowment $199 million
President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale
Students 1,800
Location Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States
Campus Urban 40 acres (16 ha)
Colors Orange and Maroon
Athletics NCAA Division II
Sports basketball
track and field
Nickname Panthers and Lady Panthers
Affiliations Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Claflin University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts institution located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States, about 40 miles (64 km) southeast of Columbia. Founded in 1869 after the American Civil War by northern missionaries for the education of freedmen and their children, it offers bachelor's and master's degrees.[1] In 2014, it was ranked as the best liberal arts college in South Carolina by Washington Monthly,[2] and in 2015 it was ranked as the eighth-best HBCU in the nation by US News & World Report.[3]


Claflin was founded after the American Civil War in 1869 by Methodist missionaries from Massachusetts, supported by the New England Conference, to provide education to freedmen and prepare them for full citizenship. The university was named after two prominent Methodist churchmen, the Massachusetts governor William Claflin and his father, the Boston philanthropist Lee Claflin, who provided a large part of the funds to purchase the campus.

1899 football team, Claflin College
1900 band, Claflin College

Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont and a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees, secured Claflin’s charter from the state legislature in 1869. The charter forbids discrimination of any sort among faculty, staff and students, making Claflin the first South Carolina university open to all students regardless of race, class or gender.

Dr. Webster served as the first president of Claflin. He had gone to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston. It was established in 1866 by the S.C. Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of African-American ministers. In 1870 the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University. In addition, the South Carolina General Assembly on March 12, 1872, designated the South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute as a part of Claflin University .

In 1877, after having gained control of the state legislature at the end of the Reconstruction era through voter intimidation and fraud, white conservative Democrats passed a law prohibiting admission of blacks to the College of South Carolina, ending the integration of the school. They authorized Claflin College as the state college institution to serve all black students and established the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute there in order to qualify for the federal Morrill Land Grants. These provided grants if the state provided for the higher education of all students.[4][5]

In 1896 the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation, which severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution. It eventually developed and was named as South Carolina State University.


Lewis M. Dunton, ca 1904
  • Dr. Alonzo Webster (1870-1872);
  • Dr. Edward Cooke (1872–1884);
  • Dr. Lewis M. Dunton (1884–1922);
  • Dr. Joseph B. Randolph (1922 1944);
  • Dr. John J. Seabrook (1945–1955);
  • Dr. Hubert V. Manning (1956–1984);
  • Dr. Oscar A. Rogers, Jr. (1984–1994); and
  • Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (1994–present).

Dr. Cooke left the presidency of Lawrence College to become the second president of Claflin. In 1879 the first college class was graduated.

The Reverend Dr. Dunton, the former vice president and development officer, was Claflin’s third president. A graduate of Syracuse University in New York state, he was a practical educator. Under his administration, the law department was set up under the Honorable J. J. Wright, a former Associate Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Its graduates were admitted to the South Carolina Bar. He increased Claflin’s property from six to 21 acres (8.5 ha) and built Tingley Memorial Hall in 1908. During the 1890s, Robert Charles Bates (c. 1872 - ), a Claflin instructor and the first certified Black architect in the United States, designed several buildings on campus. After Dunton retired, he deeded his personal residence and 6 acres (2.43 ha) of land to Claflin.

Dr. Randolph, Claflin’s fourth president, was the former president of Samuel Houston College and former dean of Wiley College. As a professional educator, he placed emphasis on a complete liberal arts education to inspire students intellectually, culturally, and spiritually to launch into varied fields. He discontinued operating classes for the upper elementary grades and high school, which had formerly prepared students for study at Claflin in order to make up for lacks in the segregated public school system. Schools for blacks were historically underfunded by white school boards, and the need for many students to work with their families in agriculture also had hindered their education. The college operated classes in the first four elementary grades for training of its own college students in the elementary school teacher education program. This part of the program was later discontinued.

Dr. Seabrook, director of Morgan Christian Center, Baltimore, Maryland, became the fifth president of Claflin. Dr. Seabrook persuaded the South Carolina Annual Methodist Conference to increase substantially its annual giving to Claflin. He also revived the interest of the New England Conference of the Methodist Church in the institution. They helped increase the endowment and expand the curriculum. The college was first accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1948.

Dr. Manning was appointed Claflin’s sixth president. He was a Methodist minister and former associate professor at Claflin. He strengthened the faculty by hiring highly qualified people, increased the endowment, and expanded the physical plant.

Dr. Rogers, former dean of the Graduate School at Jackson State University, became Claflin’s seventh president. Under his administration, the enrollment and endowment increased, the Grace Thomas Kennedy building was constructed, the financial base of the college improved, and two capital campaigns were completed. Dr. Rogers also commissioned a master plan to guide campus development into the 21st century.

Dr. Tisdale, Claflin’s eighth and current president, was former senior vice president and chief academic officer at Delaware State University. Dr. Tisdale brought scholarly achievement and demonstrated leadership to the University. He declared academic excellence the number one priority for Claflin. He established the Claflin Honors College and the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, and gained national accreditation for more than a dozen academic programs.

Graduate programs established include the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Science in Biotechnology, and the Master of Education. Facilities enhancements include construction of the Living and Learning Center, Legacy Plaza, the Student Residential Center, the Music Center, and the new University Chapel. Claflin University is recognized as one of the premier liberal arts institutions in the nation.


Lee Library

Claflin University is an independent, four-year, co-educational, residential, career-oriented liberal-arts university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. With an enrollment of approximately 2,000 students, Claflin has a student to student-faculty ratio of 14:1. The University has 117 full-time faculty members with nearly 80 percent holding terminal degrees in their respective fields. Claflin boasts four academic schools encompassing a wide array of disciplines and offers 35 undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees including the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Science in Biotechnology. In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Claflin as the 9th best HBCU in the nation.[6] Also in 2014, Washington Monthly ranked the school as the best liberal arts college in South Carolina.[7]

Student activities


Official athletics logo.

Claflin's athletic teams are the Panthers. It is a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference of the NCAA (Division II). Men's sports include basketball, baseball, tennis, and track and field. Programs for women include basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field.

Reserve Officers Training Corps

Claflin graduates who complete the R.O.T.C. program (a cross-enrollment agreement with South Carolina State University) may be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Greek letter organizations

The university currently has chapters for eight of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations.

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority ??? Gamma Nu G?
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity ?FA Delta Alpha ??
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority ?ST Gamma Chi G?
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity ??? Gamma Nu Gp
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity O?F Lambda Sigma ?S
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity F?S Omicron ?
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority SG? Theta T
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority ?F? Mu ?

Gamma Phi Delta, a national Christian fraternity, founded a chapter at Claflin in 2010.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Roger Kenton Williams 1936 Educator who taught at psychology departments at North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Morgan State University, and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
Arthur Rose Sr. 1950 Chair of Art Department (1952 - 1973) at Claflin University; the Arthur Rose Museum at the university was named for him [8]
Dr. Gloria Rackley Blackwell 1953 civil rights activist, professor at Clark Atlanta University [9]
Leo Twiggs 1956 Artist and educator at South Carolina State University; the first African American to receive a Doctorate of Arts from the University of Georgia [10]
Joseph H. Jefferson 1970 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing the 102nd District [11]
Cynthia V. Anderson 1980 Chief Operations Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy [12]
Dr. Lola Kelly-Smalls 2000 Research Scientist [13]
Dr. Leonard Pressley 2002 professor of biology at Claflin University [14]
Dr. Nathaniel Frederick 2002 professor of communication at Claflin University [14]
Bryan Andrew Wilson 2004 Gospel Artist [15]
Danny! 2005 recording artist for Okayplayer Records and music producer/composer for MTV's Hype Music production library [16]

E. Roger Mitchell 1993 Actor-The Walking Dead, Roger is currently performing in the Horizon Theatre World Premiere of "Sheddin'" and has most recently been seen in "Flying West" at Theatre in the Square, the World Premiere of "The Green Book" at Theatrical Outfit, "Every Tongue Confess" at Arena Stage, in August Wilson's "Jitney", "Gem of the Ocean", and "Cuttin' Up" at the Alliance Theatre (2007 Tony Award-Best Regional Theatre Company), "A Confederacy of Dunces" and Cormac McCarthy's "The Sunset Limited" (Suzi Award, Best Lead Actor 2010) at Theatrical Outfit, "Miss Evers Boys" and "Ceremonies In Dark Old Men" at Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre, and "A Cool Drink of Water" at Horizon Theatre. [17]

Sources: Google Maps, The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers

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