Claflin University Mourns the Passing of Former First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale

Staff Report

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Alice Carson Tisdale's extraordinary contributions to Claflin were the manifestation of her unyielding commitment to providing students the essential academic, cultural, and spiritual preparation necessary for their transformation into globally-engaged visionary leaders. Mrs. Tisdale made her peaceful transition on Saturday, July 25, 2020. She was the devoted wife of Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, who served for 25 years as Claflin's eighth president. “We came as a team,” Dr. Tisdale often said, and their combined efforts figured prominently in Claflin’s emergence as one of the region’s premier liberal arts universities.”

“Mrs. Tisdale played a pivotal role and joined her husband, President Emeritus Dr. Henry N. Tisdale in shaping the 25-year success story of Claflin University,” said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University. “Not only did Mrs. Tisdale help strengthen the academic profile of the University through the Honors College, but she also displayed compassion, guidance, and kindness to hundreds of students who passed through the halls of Claflin. We are forever grateful for her visionary leadership.”

In 1996, Mrs. Tisdale was honored by the Claflin University Board of Trustees by the naming of the University’s honors college as “The Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College.” During her tenure, the graduation and retention rate of ACT Honors College students surpassed 80 percent and produced the University’s first-ever Truman Scholar. Honors College students have been selected for the J. William Fulbright, Thomas R. Pickering, Gates Millennium, and other national scholarships and awards. Honors College students have also earned internships and career opportunities and prestigious graduate and professional schools, and Fortune 500 companies.

In 1986, Mrs. Tisdale received the District Teacher of the Year award while teaching in the Smyrna School District, Smyrna, Delaware. Before moving to Orangeburg in 1994, she taught in that district for 21 years. In 1991, she received the State Chamber of Commerce “Superstars! In Education Award” from the State of Delaware for innovative teaching strategies and later, the “NAACP Educator of the Year Award” from the Dover, Delaware, Central Branch of the NAACP. In 2004, she was awarded the “Outstanding Director of the Year” by The National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP). In 2011, she received the Community Service Award from the Delta Zeta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and was the recipient of the IMARAMagazine Community Service Award. She received the 2012 Education Award from the Orangeburg, S.C. Branch of the NAACP, and in December of 2013, she and her husband, received the Times & Democrat “Persons of the Year” for the phenomenal transformational change taking place at Claflin University. In September, 2014, she received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian award in the State of South Carolina, presented by former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. 

She had a ubiquitous presence on a slate of community boards and organizations. She served on the Governor’s Mansion and Lace House Commission; Board Member, The Oaks; Past National President and Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of African American Honors Programs; past Board Chair of the Orangeburg County Salvation Army; and past Board Chair of the Orangeburg County Community of Character. She was also a member and Co-Founder/Director of the “Praise Kids” children’s Christian Theater at Trinity United Methodist Church. She was a very popular motivational speaker for children and people of all ages. 

Mrs. Tisdale was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, S.C. She also was a member of the Beta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Orangeburg Chapter of the Links, Inc., and The Girl Friends, Inc. (Columbia S.C. Chapter).

She leaves to cherish her memory her husband, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale; daughter, Dr. Danica Camille Tisdale Fisher and son-in-law, Dr. Damany Fisher; son, Brandon Keith Tisdale; and two grandchildren, Asa Toure and Anansa Theodora Fisher.