Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) - Claflin University's eighth president is retiring after more than two decades.
Dr. Henry N. Tisdale began serving his alma mater, the oldest historically black college or university in South Carolina, when he was appointed to its board of trustees in 1994. Tisdale announced his retirement Tuesday, but it won't go into effect until June 30, 2019.
“I am honored to serve Claflin in this leadership role,” Tisdale said. “I am thankful for the Claflin community that embraced my hopes, dreams and vision for the University. I never felt alone in the process to move the University forward. This has been a rewarding journey and a mission to make a difference.”
Tisdale wasted no time enacting change at the university. Four months after his appointment, he aimed to strengthen science, engineering and mathematics programs; renovated the James S. Thomas Science Center; and upgraded the Summer Science Camp for middle-school students. In hopes of reversing the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines, he implemented the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics.
Several programs were implemented during his time at the university, including producing local shows with Time Warner Cable, a transition program for college freshman, the Professional and Continuing Studies Center, Claflin's Academic Plan for Excellence and the Leadership Development Center.
In 1997, the university kicked off a five-year, $20 million campaign, which was surpassed in three years and reaching reached more than $30 million in 2002.
By 2008, students from 26 states and 15 countries attended the university, doubling the student population of 1994. The campus had also doubled in size, undergoing more than $50 million in renovations and improvements. Claflin was also ranked the top HBCU in the country by Forbes.com, and listed in the top four percent of all colleges and universities in the nation that same year.
The university has gone on to receive national recognition as a liberal arts institution and core research facility, and launched online undergraduate and graduate programs and a RN to BSN program. Alumni support rose also to a high of 52.2 percent, which led all historically black colleges and universities.
The Order of Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award, is just one of many awards and honors Tisdale has received over the years. In September 2008, his hometown, Kingstree, erected six highway markers proclaiming Kingstree, South Carolina, the “Home of Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, The Eighth President of Claflin University.”