Claflin to Celebrate President Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale with “A Legacy of Visionary Leadership Gala”

Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale (left); First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale (right)

In honor of 25 years of visionary and transformative leadership by President Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale, Claflin University is hosting “A Legacy of Visionary Leadership Gala” on Monday, April 1, 2019, at 6 p.m., at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (1101 Lincoln Street, Columbia, S.C.). The black tie event will feature multi-platinum and Grammy nominated saxophonist and flautist, Najee, and dance music by Columbia, South Carolina’s own, the Friends Band. 

To purchase tickets for the gala, please call Tammy McCottry at (803) 535-5665. To serve as a sponsor for this event, call Marcus Burgess at (803) 535-5238. For more information on tickets and sponsorship, visit

“This event will provide the Claflin community and constituents an opportunity to express our appreciation for the Tisdales’ dedicated service and unwavering commitment to academic excellence during their 25-year tenure at the University,” said James K. Lehman, chairman of the Board of Trustees and managing partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia.

“Together, the Tisdales have guided Claflin to new heights and helped secure the University’s status as a leading 21st century institution of higher education. The proceeds from this event will support the endowed scholarship fund the Tisdales have established to support deserving Claflin students,” Lehman said.

A 1965 honors graduate of Claflin University, Tisdale returned to his alma mater in 1994 and launched his exceptional tenure at the first historically black college and university in South Carolina. On April 17, 2018, President Tisdale announced his retirement effective June 30, 2019, after serving Claflin University as its eighth president for more than two decades.

Through President Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale’s exceptional leadership, the University has made many notable and historic achievements:

  • For eight consecutive years, U.S. News and World Reporthas ranked Claflin University among the Top 10 HBCUs (2019 Ranking #7). Claflin University is also one of only four South Carolina universities/colleges and one of only four HBCUs ranked by U.S. News and World Reportas being the “Best National Liberal Arts Institutions.”
  • Ranked Number 1 among HBCUs by U.S. News and World Report’s Short Listfor annual alumni giving of approximately 50 percent
  • The Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College, established in 1994, provides students unique preparation for successful careers after graduation
  • Four S.C. Governor’s Professors of the Year and two National Science Foundation Early Career Development Faulty Awards since 1996
  • Prestigious academic scholarship designations: Fulbright U.S. Student Program (2008), Marshall Scholarship, The Harry S. Truman Scholarship (2014) and the ESB Luard Morse Scholarship (2019)
  • Exceeded $100 million Capital Campaign goal raising more than $105 million – making it the largest fundraising campaign in Claflin’s history
  • Selected as a frontier set network institution by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue transformational change in higher education
  • The Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex which provides holistic health, nutrition, and lifelong wellness education to the Claflin University campus community and area residents
  • The Molecular Science Research Center (MSRC) designated a core research facility by the South Carolina Research Authority
  • The James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel which serves as a place for worship and educational building for those students who are studying religion and philosophy as well as humanities and social sciences. This crown jewel of the campus was erected debt free.


Grammy nominated saxophonist and flautist, Najee has made a career following his heart and keen musical intuition by pushing musical boundaries, all of which have made him an international pioneer in the music industry. Having collaborated with everyone in the music business from Prince, Quincy Jones to Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock, Najee’s technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending have made him one of the most sought after musicians of his generation. With two Platinum and four Gold albums under his belt, Najee is an icon whose musical vision spawned an entire new genre by fusing the music close to his heart (R&B and Jazz).

Born in the Greenwich Village in New York City and raised in Jamaica, Queens; an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music, Najee was mentored by jazz giants Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath as well as classical maven and flutist Harold Jones of the New York Philharmonic. When he emerged onto the scene with his soulful R&B, and jazz fused sound, with songs such as “Najee’s Theme,” “Sweet Love” and “Betcha Don’t Know,” it was not long before his trademark soprano found a home at the top of the charts and he carved out his own unique niche in the musical landscape. 

In 1986, “Najee’s Theme” was released and the saxophonist earned a slot on tour with singer Freddie Jackson. The following year, “Day By Day” was released, was released. “Tokyo Blue” and “Day By Day” both went Gold and led to two Soul Train Awards for Najee (Best Jazz Artist in 1991 and 1993). “Just An Illusion” was released in 1992 and around this time he collaborated with Quincy Jones and jazz greats Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Larry Carlton which resulted in the album “Live At The Greek.” Following his collaborative live album, “Share My World” was released in 1994 and was followed in 1995 by a critically acclaimed tribute to Stevie Wonder’s 1976 classic, “Songs In The Key of Life.” This CD was produced by George Duke and features Herbie Hancock and Sheila E. among others. His CD, “Morning Tenderness” was released in 1998 and went to #1 on the contemporary jazz charts. Also released the same year was “The Best of Najee” which included his tour with the USO for the troops in the Mediterranean: Spain and Turkey.

In 2003, Najee released “Embrace” featuring special guests Roy Ayers and BeBe Winans. “My Point Of View” was his follow up in 2005 featuring his good friend and vocalist Will Downing. In 2006, Najee won an NAACP Image Award for “Best Jazz Artist”. Other recordings included “Rising Sun” (2007), “Mind Over Matter” (2009) and “The Smooth Side Of Soul” (2012). In 2013, Najee released “The Morning After – A Musical Journey” which earned him a NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Jazz Album (2014) and Soul Train Awards Nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance. In 2015, he released “You, Me And Forever,” an inspired collection of songs that charted #1 Most Added Song on Billboard and Smooth Jazz charts.

Najee’s new offering Poetry In Motion (August 25, 2017), is dedicated to two ground-breaking musicians who Najee has had the distinction of working with – Prince and Al Jarreau. “Both artists in their own way have changed the culture of music forever,” shares the saxophonist. “Whenever I have worked with people of their caliber of artistry, I have always walked away with something that helps to shape my musical conversation,” said Najee. 

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