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Claflin University

Claflin University
Claflin University Seal.png
MottoThe World Needs Visionaries
TypePrivate, HBCU
AffiliationUnited Methodist Church
PresidentDr. Henry N. Tisdale
LocationOrangeburg, South Carolina, United States
CampusUrban 40 acres (16 ha)
ColorsOrange and Maroon
AthleticsNCAA Division II
NicknamePanthers and Lady Panthers
AffiliationsCentral Intercollegiate Athletic Association
track and field

Claflin University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university 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.[2] In 2014, it was ranked as the best liberal arts college in South Carolina by Washington Monthly,[3] and in 2018 it was ranked as the seventh-best HBCU in the nation by US News & World Report.[4]


Methodist ministers Timothy Willard Lewis and Alonzo Webster started Claflin College in 1869.[5]


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-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. Claflin's Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College provides an academically rigorous and dynamic learning environment for select high-achieving undergraduate students.[6]

Student Activities


Claflin's athletic teams are the Panthers. It is a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association 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.

Claflin has an All-Girl cheerleading team that serves as athletics support and ambassadors of the university.

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 ΑΚΑ Gamma Nu ΓΝ
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity ΑΦΑ Delta Alpha ΔΑ
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority ΔΣΘ Gamma Chi ΓΧ
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity ΚΑΨ Gamma Nu ΓΝ
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity ΩΨΦ Lambda Sigma ΛΣ
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity ΦΒΣ Omicron Ο
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority ΣΓΡ Theta Θ
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority ΖΦΒ Mu Μ

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

Notable Alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
William Bulkley 1882 One of the first African-Americans in America to receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD. from Syracuse University in 1893). He was one of two members of the first graduating college class [7]
Alice Jackson Moorer/ Annie Thortne 1884 Two of the first black women in the world to receive college degrees [7]
Cassandra Maxwell Birney 1928 First black female attorney admitted to the South Carolina Bar [7]
James S. Thomas 1939 First African American Bishop of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church [7]
Florella Fordham 1900 First “trained” African American Nurse in Orangeburg County [7]
James Martin, PhD First African-American to receive a Ph.D in Biology from the University of South Carolina [7]
James Hodges 1966 First African American to earn a pharmaceutical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina [7]
Ernest Newman 1948 First African-American bishop of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church [7]
William Wilson Cook 1898 Designed Lee Library (1898)

and Tingley Memorial Hall. He went to Washington, D.C.,to become the first black architect in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of the Supervising Architect, planned and administered federal buildings.

Kebra Moore 1997 Gospel recording artist with MOKEB Entertainment [8]
Uhriel E. Bedoya 2003 Assistant Vice President, International Trade Finance Group, M&T Bank. [7]
Col. Gloria A. Lee 1982 Chief Transportation Branch, United States Army. [7]
Robert Bates First African- American certified as an architect. He designed Fisk Hall, T. Willard Lewis Chapel and other campus buildings. [7]
Henry N. Tisdale 1965 Eighth president of Claflin University. First African-American to earn a PhD. In mathematics at Dartmouth College. [7]
James K. Davis 1962 Senior Vice President for

Corporate Affairs, Georgia Power Company.

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 [9]
Dr. Gloria Rackley Blackwell 1953 civil rights activist, professor at Clark Atlanta University [10]
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 [11]
Cecil J. Williams 1960 American photographer, publisher, author and inventor best known for his photography documenting the civil rights movement in South Carolina [12]
Joseph H. Jefferson 1970 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing the 102nd District [13]
Cynthia V. Anderson 1980 Chief Operations Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy [14]
Dr. Lola Kelly-Smalls 2000 Research Scientist [15]
Dr. Leonard Pressley 2002 professor of biology at Claflin University [16]
Dr. Nathaniel Frederick 2002 professor of communication at Claflin University [16]
Bryan Andrew Wilson 2004 Gospel Artist [17]
E. Roger Mitchell 1993 Actor - The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. [18][19]


  1. ^ Official website, Claflin University
  2. ^ "Academic Programs".
  3. ^ "2014 Liberal Arts College Rankings - Washington Monthly". The Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on 2015-06-29. Retrieved 2015-07-08.
  4. ^ "HBCU Ranking". Archived from the original on 2016-10-27.
  5. ^ Neufeld, Rob (2018-02-25). "Visiting Our Past: African-American news reflected 1860s Asheville". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  6. ^ "Honors College". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Notable Alumni" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  8. ^ "Notable Alumni". Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  9. ^ "The Johnson Collection - Rose, Arthur 1921-1995". Retrieved 2015-05-10.
  10. ^ Carolyn Click, "Orangeburg civil rights icon, and Claflin alumna Dr. Gloria Rackley Blackwell dies" Archived 2011-09-29 at the Wayback Machine., Claflin University (December 10, 2010). Retrieved June 2, 2011
  11. ^ "Hampton III Gallery Artist: Leo F. Twiggs (1934- )". Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  12. ^ "Cecil Williams". Sandlapper Publishing. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  13. ^ "Joseph H Jefferson". Archived from the original on 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  14. ^ "US Department of Energy". Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  15. ^ "Dr. Lola Kelley-Smalls". Procter & Gamble. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  16. ^ a b "Claflin Alumni Return to University to Serve on Faculty". Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  17. ^ "Gospel Veteran Bishop Bryan Andrew Wilson". Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  18. ^ "E. Roger Mitchell". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  19. ^ "Claflin University". World University Rankings. Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2017-01-16.

External links