Claflin University

Claflin University
Claflin University Seal.png
MottoThe World Needs Visionaries
TypePrivate, HBCU
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Endowment$48.6 million
PresidentDwaun J. Warmack
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban, 40 acres (16 ha)
Colors   Orange & Maroon
NicknamePanthers and Lady Panthers
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Claflin University is a private historically black university in Orangeburg, South Carolina. 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]


Main building of Claflin University, 1899

Claflin University was founded in 1869 by Methodist missionaries who freed slaves to take their rightful places as full American citizens.

Claflin is the oldest historically black college or university in South Carolina and touts itself as the first college in the state to welcome all students regardless of race or gender.

The university was named after 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 43-acre (17 ha) campus. Claflin's first president was Dr. Alonzo Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont who had previously spent time as a member of Claflin's board of trustees.

Webster 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.

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), Dr. Henry N. Tisdale (1994-2019) and Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack (2019–Present).

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.[3]

In 2020, MacKenzie Scott donated $20 million to Claflin. Her donation is the largest single gift in Claflin's history.[4]


Claflin University Tingley Hall

Claflin offers degrees through four schools:

  • School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • School of Business
  • School of Education

Student life


Claflin athletic teams are the Panthers. The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) since the 2018–19 academic year. The Panthers previously competed in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 2008–09 to 2017–18; as well as in the defunct Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (EIAC) from 1983–84 to 2004–05.

Claflin competes in ten intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, baseball, cross country and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, softball, track & field and volleyball.

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

Student organizations

There are over 50 student organizations on campus.[5]

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.

National Pan-Hellenic Council

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

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 [6]
Alice Jackson Moorer/ Annie Thortne 1884 Two of the first black women in the world to receive college degrees [6]
Cassandra Maxwell Birney 1928 First black female attorney admitted to the South Carolina Bar [6]
James S. Thomas 1939 First African American Bishop of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church [6]
Florella Fordham 1900 First “trained” African American Nurse in Orangeburg County [6]
James Martin, PhD First African-American to receive a Ph.D in Biology from the University of South Carolina [6]
James Hodges 1966 First African American to earn a pharmaceutical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina [6]
Ernest Newman 1948 First African-American bishop of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church [6]
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 [7]
Uhriel E. Bedoya 1999 Country Manager - Caribbean, Mastercard. [6]
Col. Gloria A. Lee 1982 Chief Transportation Branch, United States Army. [6]
Robert Bates First African- American certified as an architect. He designed Fisk Hall, T. Willard Lewis Chapel and other campus buildings. [6]
Henry N. Tisdale 1965 Eighth president of Claflin University. First African-American to earn a PhD. In mathematics at Dartmouth College. [6]
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 [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]
Cecil J. Williams 1960 American photographer, founder of Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum, publisher, author and inventor best known for his photography documenting the civil rights movement in South Carolina [11]
Joseph H. Jefferson 1970 member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing the 102nd District [12]
Cynthia V. Anderson 1980 Chief Operations Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy [13]
Dr. Lola Kelly-Smalls 2000 Research Scientist [14]
Dr. Leonard Pressley 2002 professor of biology at Claflin University [15]
Dr. Nathaniel Frederick 2002 professor of communication at Claflin University [15]
Bryan Andrew Wilson 2004 Gospel Artist [16]
E. Roger Mitchell 1993 Actor - The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. [17][18]


  1. ^ Official website, Claflin University
  2. ^ "Academic Programs". Archived from the original on 2012-05-20.
  3. ^ Neufeld, Rob (2018-02-25). "History of Claflin University". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  4. ^ Claflin receives $20 million donation[dead link]
  5. ^ "Clubs & Organizations".
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Notable Alumni" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  7. ^ "Notable Alumni". Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  8. ^ "The Johnson Collection - Rose, Arthur 1921-1995". Retrieved 2015-05-10.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "Hampton III Gallery Artist: Leo F. Twiggs (1934- )". Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  11. ^ "Cecil Williams". Sandlapper Publishing. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  12. ^ "Joseph H Jefferson". Archived from the original on 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  13. ^ "US Department of Energy". Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  14. ^ "Dr. Lola Kelley-Smalls". Procter & Gamble. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  15. ^ a b "Claflin Alumni Return to University to Serve on Faculty". Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  16. ^ "Gospel Veteran Bishop Bryan Andrew Wilson". Archived from the original on 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
  17. ^ "E. Roger Mitchell". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  18. ^ "Claflin University". World University Rankings. Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2017-01-16.

External links

Coordinates: 33°29′54.08″N 80°51′14.53″W / 33.4983556°N 80.8540361°W / 33.4983556; -80.8540361