Claflin University, the oldest historically black college or university in South Carolina, was founded December 18, 1869, and named in honor of Lee Claflin, a prominent Methodist layman, and his son William Claflin, then governor of Massachusetts. With “the only admission requirements for prospective students being the possession of good moral character and a conscientious desire to learn,” Claflin University offered, for the first time in South Carolina, quality higher education for men and women “regardless of race, complexion, or religious opinion.” In an effort to strengthen Claflin’s financial base, an agricultural and mechanical college was established at Claflin University in 1872, the South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Institute, which assured state funding through the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. By 1879, the University began enrolling students from all over the state, increased its faculty and curriculum, introduced extracurricular activities, installed a replacement library, and added a school of law and a school of medicine. Another much celebrated occasion came in 1882, when the Board of Trustees approved two students, Nathaniel Middleton and William Bulkley, to receive bachelor’s degrees, making them the first students to complete the four-year college course offered by the University. In 1896 the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation, which severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution. It eventually developed and was named as South Carolina State University. Today, Claflin is still committed to providing students with access to exemplary educational opportunities in its undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs. Claflin seeks to foster a rich community comprised of students, faculty, staff and administrators who work to nurture and develop the skills and character needed for engaged citizenship and visionary and effective leadership.
Notable Alumni: Joseph H. Jefferson- House of Rep; E. Roger Mitchell- Actor; Bryan Andrew Wilson- Gospel Artist; Dr. Gloria Rackley Blackwell– Civil Rights Activist