Dr. Dwaun Warmack walked out of Claflin University’s Tingley Memorial Hall to cheers and applause from faculty, staff and students as they welcomed the institution’s newest president.
He spoke to the audience at Thursday morning’s pep rally about building on the university’s legacy.
“Together we will, together we can,” he said.
Warmack officially started work on Thursday as the ninth president of the institution, which opened its doors in 1869. Former President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale retired Wednesday after 25 years in the position.
He said he is aware of Claflin’s impact on the Orangeburg community and surrounding areas.
Warmack said he is excited about what is in store, and shared some of his overall goals as the university's new leader.
“When you think about an institution that’s had this notion of creating visionary leaders and had this notion of Claflin Confidence, the sky is the limit,” he said.
He mentioned that Claflin is ranked seventh among the nation’s historically black colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report.
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“Our goal is to be number one,” Warmack said. “I don’t say that as a cliché. I am a competitor.”
“My measuring stick is not HBCUs. I want us to be one of the premier institutions that just happens to be an HBCU,” Warmack said. “I want us to compete.”
Miss Claflin Faith McKie said the student body is excited about Warmack’s arrival.
“Everybody is really excited, especially because we hear that he is so student-oriented. We just are excited to have a new time here and change here at Claflin,” she said.
“I feel like he has great energy. I love how he’s focused on student leaders, and student life, and putting the student first, and merging all of the communities in Orangeburg to make us the best that we can be.”
McKie said student leaders will soon meet with Warmack to discuss the institution’s future.
“We have an upcoming meeting with him just to see what his ideas are, to tell him what ours are. Really, it’s all about communication and making sure that everything we do is in the best benefit of the campus and the students,” she said.
“We’re definitely going to be very close and make sure we have a great year,” McKie said.
Longtime faculty member Dr. Denver Malcom-Key said, “I think everyone is excited about Dr. Warmack’s appointment as the ninth president of Claflin University. We are of the belief that he is going to continue the legacy of this university and the work of Dr. Henry N. Tisdale.”
Key said that the faculty and staff are expecting Warmack to build upon the university’s foundation.
“We’re looking forward to this new, energetic leadership from him, and we’re looking forward to him being able to build on our academic programs. We’re looking forward to him building onto our student development and bringing Claflin from number seven to number one and being the institution that not only leads the HBCU community but being the premier institution in general,” Key said.