Goff Avenue from U.S. Highway 601 to the U.S. Highway 21 Bypass is being named for retiring Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale.
The S.C. House of Representatives approved a resolution to name the road as Dr. H.N. Tisdale Avenue. The announcement and presentation of the official highway sign bearing the name were made during the Alumni and Friend's Breakfast hosted by the Orangeburg County Alumni Chapter of the Claflin University International Alumni Association on May 18.
Tisdale will retire on June 30 after 25 years as Claflin's eighth president. The street-naming proposal was first introduced as a resolution before the S.C. House of Representatives, with Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, serving as the primary sponsor.
As Claflin president, Tisdale has made a priority of transforming the community surrounding the university, including Goff Avenue.
“I saw that our campus really wasn’t where we wanted it to be. It didn’t have the appeal that I thought it should have, so we went about changing that with our campus Pride Day. As I looked around the neighborhood, and especially Goff Avenue, at that time it was a street that I thought had been ignored for a number of years,” Tisdale said in 2014,
A large number of senior citizens who lived along the street cared for their individual properties, but were still concerned about the larger neighborhood, he said.
During the university’s seventh annual Pride Day in 2000, the university set about cleaning up and beautifying Goff Avenue.
Community leaders joined Claflin faculty, staff, students and alumni in picking up trash and cleaning out lots. The effort began on Magnolia Street and continued down to include both sides of Goff Avenue before concluding with a picnic.
“The theme for that year was ‘Extending the Pride Into Our Community,’” Tisdale said.
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Claflin’s Community Development Corporation went on to do its own part to improve the quality of life for Goff Avenue residents by renovating old and vacant homes and providing new ones for affordable home ownership.
“That was one of the things that we wanted to make certain that we helped provide. We decided to do much of that right on Goff Avenue. We built four homes right off Goff Avenue, and we renovated homes on Goff Avenue,” Tisdale said.
The transformation had begun, and in 2003 the university’s vice president of student affairs was called upon to lead an effort dubbed the CU/Goff Avenue Project. A call was made for increased access to athletic and recreational facilities serving university students, faculty and staff, but an appeal was also made to enhance the university’s partnerships with the City of Orangeburg, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the YMCA and South Carolina State University.
Claflin's campus growth also has improved Goff Avenue.
The molecular science research center built in 2010 is one of several buildings that have helped change the neighborhood and make the street more of a part of the growing campus, Tisdale said.
A research greenhouse and garden were also developed on Goff in 2010.
“We didn’t just build a house, but a little research plaza and the like. In 2011, we expanded that building and added a forensic science lab in partnership with the City of Orangeburg and the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety. The lab has won at least three awards and is part of extending the pride along Goff Avenue,” Tisdale said.
The university’s history and sociology department is also housed on Goff Avenue, along with its research office and other faculty spaces. The university’s Student Health Services building was located on Goff in the fall of 2013.
“Goff Avenue really is becoming a part of the campus of both Claflin University and South Carolina State University,” Tisdale said.
S.C. State’s ROTC building, police department and 1890 Research and Extension Office are also located on Goff Avenue.
The completion of Claflin Commons, a 4,000-square-foot residential living complex, was a major development along Goff.
Claflin Commons houses 200 students, features high ceilings, open gathering spaces, a seminar room for student meetings and a fitness center in keeping with the university’s campuswide wellness initiative. The facility features two- and four-bedroom suites.