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Claflin President Dr. Henry Tisdale announced April 17 that he will be retiring next year, but the president will be busy at work until then.

In a news conference with Claflin's student newspaper The Panther, Tisdale identified five key tasks for the final year. He will be focusing on the “unfinished agenda."

Tisdale's five are:

• Fundraising and increasing scholarship dollars for students.

• Fully launching the Career Pathways program.

• Completing the construction of the health and wellness complex.

• Working on the Claflin Archival and Preservation project.

• Writing a book on Claflin’s history.

Tisdale said increasing scholarship dollars for students is first on his list.

“Number one is going to be fundraising, and especially focusing on raising more scholarship dollars for students,” Tisdale said.

“We want to increase the amount of dollars we have for endowed scholarships, and especially funds for students who need to fill the gap,” Tisdale said.

The Career Pathways Initiative -- which involves Claflin, Benedict College and Voorhees College -- is designed to give students an individualized four-year plan and help them be successful and more competitive.

“Every student at this institution will have an electronic version of the plan that will tell each semester what they are to be taking when they should be doing internships, study abroad and the like,” Tisdale said.

Tisdale said the program will be guided by a team of “proactive advisers, faculty and mentors.”

The success of Career Pathways is a must, he said.

“We’ve got to make certain that the program is fully implemented and that we have everyone to know all about it, and that we can have students to feel comfortable in taking advantage of all of the opportunities of that program.”

Tisdale called upon students to take advantage of the program’s opportunities.

“Taking advantage of the fact that the program will bring more internships to the institution. It will bring more job opportunities for students to the institution, it will give students a better sense of career readiness,” Tisdale said.

“This is very intentional. We want very few students undecided anymore,” Tisdale said.

Tisdale said the freshman class has begun to participate in the program.

Construction on the health and wellness complex is well underway, with an expected completion date of August or September 2018, Tisdale said.

The complex will be an expansion of the current Jonas T. Kennedy Center and will include an auxiliary gym, indoor track and group fitness area.

Fourth on Tisdale’s list is the Claflin Archival and Preservation Project.

Its purpose is “preserving the legacy of this university,” Tisdale said. The legacy of Claflin involves preserving its history, and the project will strengthen the university’s archival collection.

“The legacy of the university involves preserving our history as the first historically black institution, our history of pioneering in terms of our early graduates and some of our outstanding graduates,” Tisdale said.

Tisdale also noted the project will include some of the pictorial history collection of photographer Cecil Williams. The university also will be working with painter Leo Twiggs, a Claflin alumnus.

The Tisdale top five includes him becoming an author, writing about his alma mater.

“In the last year, I want to begin writing a book, writing a book to document Claflin’s success for the last 20 years or so,” Tisdale said.

Tisdale said the book will be written in a particular way.

“I want to do it in such a way that we can select and write up many of the initiatives that we believe have made a difference in the success of the institution,” Tisdale said. “Write them up in such a way that we can share them with other colleges and universities across the country."

Tisdale made sure to note that he will begin the book in his final year but does not expect it to be completed before his exit.

Tisdale said his retirement will not mean the end of his interaction with Claflin.

The president plans to be engaged as an active alumnus, and he will be available if called upon to help the new leader of the university.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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