Tisdale putting Claflin plan into action ​

May 14, 2017
2017 spring tisdale news conference

Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale addresses mass communications students. (Panther photo)


Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale has completed his 23rd year as president with an eye toward the future and a five-year plan to transform the university.

 “Here I have documents that strategically outline where we are going,” Tisdale said during an end-of-year news conference with The Panther. “This is the plan for 2016 to 2021 that is designed to point Claflin in a new direction. We call this Claflin LEADS.”

Claflin LEADS is an acronym for leadership development, experiential learning, academic progress, diversity and student success.

“This year we were able to reach the 2,000 mark with enrollment for the very first time ever,” Tisdale said. “The plan is looking to grow to about 2,500 in the next five years.”

The Carolina Career Cluster Program is another initiative of the five-year plan.

“Now, incoming freshmen are required to participate in the Career Pathway Online Assessment,” Tisdale said. “This will test how to measure their strengths to make a career choice.

“Forty percent of freshmen have an undeclared as their major and we aim to change that to help students reach their full potential.”

The university is looking forward to incorporating resources leading to students answering three key questions:

  • Am I going to get a job?
  • Will I have a job in my field?
  • Will my education be worth the cost?

With this also comes a 2.5 percent increase in tuition for 2017-18.

Tisdale said the funds are needed for campus projects such as the Jonas T. Kennedy Center expansion, utility costs, Wi-Fi optic cabling, storm water drainage and increases in faculty pay.

“Right now we didn’t have a choice,” Tisdale said. “However, tuition doesn’t even cover half of the expenses. Most of it comes from endowments, grants, corporations and the alumni.”

Tisdale is looking for ways to further assist students financially. He was among speakers in Washington when HBCU presidents met with President Donald Trump and congressional leaders earlier this year.

“While meeting with President Trump, one of my main goals was to get him to understand that we should increase the Pell grant and have it offered to students year round,” Tisdale said. “I also met with the governor (S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster) to suggest an increase in the South Carolina Tuition Grant and Life Scholarships.”

Internally, the university also raised $100 million to help need-based students and provide more scholarships for those who are eligible.

Claflin is moving forward with the new Health and Wellness Center, which will consist of remodeling the old gymnasium and tearing down some old homes from Magnolia to Clark Street, Tisdale said.

“We are excited about this $8 million project,” Tisdale said. “And we look forward to opening the building to the community and alumni.”

The Health and Wellness Center at JTK will feature an auxiliary gym, classrooms, labs, offices, a demonstration kitchen, a farmers market and an expansion of the parking lot.

When asked to explain how he chose his team to complete the five-year plan, Tisdale said the Strategic Planning Committee did the work.

“In addition to myself, I have four students, faculty and staff on this planning committee,” Tisdale said. “And I also have a call for ideas. I survey, and I have town hall structure meetings with students, faculty, staff and those around the community.”

Tisdale is also excited about the university’s accomplishments this past academic year, such as the launch of the new website, the master’s degree program in criminal justice and education, the first bachelor’s degree nursing program at an HBCU, and Claflin's recognition by Black Southern Belle Magazine and the Princeton Review.

As to how long he intends to keep his position as president, Tisdale said, “I have a connection to this plan and the future of this university, and I look to see it through.”

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