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From a 14-year Claflin trustee

As most of you already know, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale will officially retire as the eighth president of Claflin University at the end of this month. And as he departs his alma mater, it is very disconcerting as to why the previous chairperson of the board of trustees would exercise his might in gas lighting and sabotaging a bylaw procedure.

The chairperson targeted a former 14-year board member. This former board member had traveled to and attended all board meetings during her entire tenure on the board -- at her expense. She chaired leadership committees all 14 years. In addition, she was re-elected to the board of trustees four times.

The verbal attack played out in front of non-board members. The former board member had received a letter of praise from Dr. Tisdale, thanking her and outlining her distinguished leadership contributions that benefited Claflin University during her tenure on the board. In addition, the academic area of the university presented her with a plaque for her professional and knowledgeable service to Claflin. This former trustee, a Claflin honor graduate, has contributed to the university for 50 years.

The gas-lighting discussion did not follow the board’s approved bylaws or best practices. The chair in his haste to unilaterally block the former board member’s recommended honor consideration forgot to close the board business meeting to non-board members who were present at the start of his biased discussion, until someone decided to ask the senior administrators to depart the board meeting.

It appeared that the former chairperson, a non-Claflinite, was using his position to carry out an unknown and delayed personal vendetta. The former board member’s term on the board had ended a year prior.

This haunting matter, in the mind of the former board member, remains unresolved since she has not been afforded the reason for the chairperson’s baseless comments -- in her absence. This matter lingers on as Dr. Tisdale departs his alma mater. (Dr. Tisdale is an ex-officio member of the board of trustees).

This kind of situation had never occurred in the history of the board meetings. Normally, protocol is adhered to and unexpected surprises do not occur in an open forum. The business meetings are usually fully professional and above board.

There are approximately 22 members on the board of trustees at Claflin University.

Nancy Wilson Young, Miami (1965 Claflin graduate and 14-year Claflin trustee)

With NASA for Apollo 11 summer

The summer of 1969 was a truly memorable experience for me. I was between my first and second years as a graduate engineering student. I had applied to about 15 companies seeking a summer intern job in engineering. I was truly surprised and happy when I got an offer letter from the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. What an opportunity! I got to be at NASA for the summer of Apollo 11.

"Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest NASA center, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo Moon program." (Wikipedia) I was assigned to the Performance Prediction group, which analyzed the parameters that would affect how the Saturn V rocket would perform in its trajectory to orbit.

I remember being in a conference room watching the liftoff of Apollo 11. I could have watched the same event anywhere, but it was extra special to share this experience with a group of engineers and scientists that had played a part in making it all happen.

Since the work of my group was essentially complete by the time the third stage achieved orbit, we had a lot of time over the next few days to watch the TV coverage of the mission at the office. The first step on the moon occurred on the evening of July 20. We weren’t needed at the office, so we went home to watch TV. I well remember watching Neil Armstrong take his “one step” on a small black and white TV in the apartment of a colleague and his wife. There were just three friends together, hooping and hollering. But it is an image I will never forget.

A week ago, I watched the replay of the original CBS coverage of Neil and Buzz on the moon exactly 50 years later. It was surreal, both to see again the same images that I had seen a half century ago, and to feel the same sense of awe and wonder.

Robert Lundgren, Orangeburg

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