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Claflin University
Established 1869
Type Private,HBCU
Religious affiliation United Methodist Church
President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale
Undergraduates 1,800
Location Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States
Campus Urban 42 acres (170,000 m2)
Sports basketball
track and field
Colors Orange and Maroon
Nickname Panthers and Lady Panthers
Athletics NCAA Division II
Affiliations Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Claflin College Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic District
Location: On a portion of Claflin College campus, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Coordinates: 33°29′51″N 80°51′18″W / 33.4975°N 80.855°W / 33.4975; -80.855Coordinates: 33°29′51″N 80°51′18″W / 33.4975°N 80.855°W / 33.4975; -80.855
Architectural style(s): Colonial Revival, Georgian Revival
Governing body: Private
MPS: Orangeburg MRA
Added to NRHP: September 20, 1985
NRHP Reference#: 85002324[1]

Claflin University is located in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Claflin University was founded in 1869 and is the oldest historically black college or university in the state of South Carolina.



Claflin was founded in 1869 by Methodist missionaries to prepare freed slaves to take their places as full American citizens. The University takes its name from two Methodist churchmen, Massachusetts Governor William Claflin and his father, Boston philanthropist Lee Claflin, who provided a large part of the funds to purchase the campus.

1899 football team

Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont and a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees, secured Claflin’s charter 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.

Claflin opened its doors with Dr. Webster as its first president. He came to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston, an institution established by the S.C. Mission Conference of 1866 of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of African American ministers. In 1870 the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University. An act by 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 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 which eventually became South Carolina State University.

Since the administration of Dr. Webster, Claflin has been served by seven presidents: 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. During his administration, a disastrous fire destroyed the Fisk Building, a proud monument designed by Robert Bates, recognized as the first certified Black Architect in the United States. In 1879 the first college class was graduated.

The Reverend Dr. Dunton, former vice president and development officer, was Claflin’s third president. Dr. Dunton, a graduate of Syracuse University, 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; graduates were admitted to the South Carolina Bar; Claflin’s property increased from six to 21 acres (85,000 m2). After his retirement, Dr. Dunton deeded his personal home and 6 acres (24,000 m2) 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 for the students who were inspired intellectually, culturally, and spiritually to launch into varied fields. The high school and upper grades were discontinued, but the first four elementary grades were retained for the 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 Conference to increase substantially its annual giving to Claflin. Furthermore, he revitalized the interest of the New England Conference of the Methodist Church in the institution. The endowment was increased, and the curriculum was expanded. The college received its first accreditation 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. Under Dr. Manning’s leadership the faculty was strengthened, the endowment increased and the physical plant was significantly expanded.

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 a wealth of scholarly achievement and demonstrated leadership to the University. He declared academic excellence the number one priority for Claflin. The first steps, designed to enhance the academic environment, included the establishment of the Claflin Honors College and the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, and the national accreditation of 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 now recognized as one of the premier liberal arts institutions in the nation.


Lee Library

Claflin University is an independent, liberal arts, co-educational, historically black institution that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is dedicated to educational excellence and to preparing students without regard to gender, race, religion or ethnic origin. It is committed to offering quality undergraduate programs, select graduate programs, and viable continuing education opportunities.

At the undergraduate level, the University ensures that students receive a liberal arts education that is designed to produce graduates who understand themselves, as well as historical and social forces that impact the world. Their academic experiences will include an understanding of religious and aesthetic values in a universal context and a thorough grounding in their chosen discipline. Their education will incorporate the use of technology, our exposure to recent scientific developments, and inculcate critical thinking and communication skills in order to prepare them for leadership and service in a global and multicultural society.

At the graduate level, students are provided instruction to enhance the analytical and comprehensive research acumen necessary for professional growth and leadership. Continuing education programs create avenues for students to complete their educational objectives and develop skills necessary for contribution to their professional and personal fulfillment.

Undergirding the Mission is the University’s commitment to excellence in all its endeavors.

The university offers broad based education in liberal arts and sciences combined with internships and other career-focused programs and offers a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA), a Master of Science in Biotechnology and 33 undergraduate majors.

About 1,800 students are enrolled. 32% are male and 68% are female. They represent 45 SC counties, 24 States, and 18 countries.

Student activities


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, Inc. ΑΚA Gamma Nu ΓN
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. ΑΦΑ Delta Alpha ΔA
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. ΔΣΘ Gamma Chi ΓX
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. ΚΑΨ Gamma Nu ΓN
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. ΩΨΦ Lambda Sigma ΛΣ
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. ΦΒΣ Omicron O
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. ΣΓΡ Theta Θ
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. ΖΦΒ Mu M

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.


Claflin is a member of 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.

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference
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 [2]
Sandy Fields 1993 Drafted by the World Basketball Association (2005) and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity [3][4]


External links


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