Furman University is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in Greenville, South Carolina. Founded in 1826 and named for the clergyman Richard Furman, Furman University is the oldest private institution of higher learning in South Carolina. It became a secular university in 1992, while keeping Christo et Doctrinae as its motto.
It enrolls approximately 2,700 undergraduate students and 200 graduate students, representing 46 states and 53 foreign countries, on its 750acre campus. Its alumni include a Nobel Prize laureate, U.S. Senators, and a head of government. As of 2017, six Rhodes ScholarsVince Moore, Another honor for George Ligler. Furman University News, February 10, 2017. https://news.furman.edu/2017/02/10/another-honor-for-george-ligler/, eighteen NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and Goldwater Scholarship, and twenty Truman Scholarshipshttps://www.truman.gov/search-our-scholars?field_profile_name_at_award_value=&field_profile_selection_year_value=&field_profile_selection_state_tid=All&field_institution_name_value=Furman%20University&page=1 have been affiliated with Furman. Furman was also named a "Top Producer of Fulbright students for 2016-17"Tina Underwood. Furman named Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright students. February 21, 2017. https://news.furman.edu/2017/02/21/furman-named-top-producer-of-u-s-fulbright-students/.
Beginnings (19th century)
Furman Academy and Theological Institution was established by the South Carolina Baptist Convention and incorporated in December 1825 in Edgefield. With 10 students meeting at Edgefield, it held its first classes January 15, 1828, but moved to the High Hills of the Santee in 1829 because of financial difficulties. When the school was threatened with financial collapse again in 1834, the Reverend Jonathan Davis, chairman of the Board of Agents, urged the board to move the school to his native Fairfield County, South Carolina. It was not until 1851 that South Carolina Baptists were able to raise the necessary funds for the removal of the school to Greenville, South Carolina.
The Furman Institution Faculty Residence serves as a visible reminder of the early history of Furman University and its brief establishment in Fairfield County.
Growth and expansion (20th century)
Furman University has been in its current location since 1953. The Furman Lake and Bell Tower (background; right) are prominent elements of the campus.
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The first school building from the downtown Greenville campus was transported to the current campus, where it still stands. In 1933, students from the Greenville Women's College began attending classes with Furman students. Shortly thereafter, the two schools merged to form the present institution.
In 1924, Furman was named one of four collegiate beneficiaries of the Duke Endowment. Through 2007, Furman has received $110 million from the endowment, which is now one of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations. Three other colleges — Duke, Davidson and Johnson C. Smith — also receive annual support and special grants from the endowment.
As of the late 1950s, separate but equal laws had continued to allow Furman to not admit African Americans as students, part of the South's history of racial segregation in the United States. Soon after Brown v. Board of Education integrated public schools, some Furman students began to press for change. In 1955, some students wrote short stories and poems in The Echo, a student literary magazine, in support of integration; school administrators destroyed all 1,500 printed copies. In 1953, Furman began construction on its new campus, five miles north of downtown Greenville. Classes on the new campus began in 1958.
By 1963, enough faculty were siding with the students over racial segregation that Furman's board of trustees voted for an open admission policy. The trustees' decision was postponed and later overturned by South Carolina's Baptist Convention; open admissions weren't established at Furman until its incoming president, Gordon Blackwell, a past president of Florida State University, made open admissions a condition of his acceptance of the new position. Joe Vaughn, a graduate of Sterling High School, became Furman's first black undergraduate in February 1965.
In 1992, Furman ended its affiliation with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and became a private, secular university, while keeping Christo et Doctrinae (For Christ and Learning) as the school's motto. Furman's "heritage is rooted in the non-creedal, free church Baptist tradition which has always valued particular religious commitments while insisting not only on the freedom of the individual to believe as he or she sees fit but also on respect for a diversity of religious perspectives, including the perspective of the non-religious person."
Between 1996 and 2003, 308 Furman graduates received Ph.D. degrees, the most by any Southern liberal arts college, according to a survey by the National Opinion Research Center.
Recent history (21st century)
The 2010's were transformative years for Furman through fundraising, resulting in new buildings, programs, and scholarships. The Because Furman Matters campaign began in 2004 and ended in 2013. The campaign was described as "the largest fundraising campaign ever among private colleges in South Carolina, and is also among the largest undertaken by any of the nation’s liberal arts colleges.". It exceeded its objective of raising $400 million, of which 62% went to the endowment and 17% went to building projects. Several such buildings were supported by successful graduates from the university via naming gifts. In 2012, a new $6.4 million facility was built for continuing education. The Herring Center for Continuing Education was supported by Sarah and Gordon Herring, a leader in the television industry who served on committees with HBO and was one of the founders of the Weather Channel. In 2013, the student center went through a $7.75 million expansion and renovation. The alumni and businessman David Trone, together with his wife Jude, participated through a $3.5 million gift resulting in the center being named the Trone Student Center.
In addition to visible changes in campus buildings, significant donations have also enabled a new campus-wide program presented as The Furman Advantage. The infrastructure and networks necessary to support The Furman Advantage were made possible when Furman received $47 million from The Duke Endowment. The new program, unveiled in 2016, seeks to increase and personalize the experiences of students beyond the classroom. This includes strengthening the university's engagement with the Greenville community, where students are provided with internships and opportunities for engaged learning. For instance, a new program in partnership with Greenville Health System, the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, provides a conduit for students and faculty to contribute to the community. The Furman Advantage also provides more stipends for students to partake into faculty-mentored research. The growing interest and infrastructure for research at Furman can also be witnessed in the creation of the annual Faculty Scholarship Reception.
While students and visitors are most likely to notice newer and renovated buildings, or experience campus wide programs, changes have also been more subtle in several other aspects. For instance, alumni have continued to fuel the development of scholarship funds for specific purposes. In 2017, a $2.2 million bequest from the late Mary Frances Edwards Garrett was dedicated to a fund for students seeking teaching and ministerial professions.
Organization and administration
The old campus of Furman University, prior to its relocation under the presidency of John Laney Plyler.
James Clement Furman 1859-1879
Charles Manly 1881-1897
Andrew Philip Montague 1897-1902
Charles Hallette Judson 1902-1903 Edwin McNeill Poteat 1903-1918
Sidney Ernest Bradshaw 1918-1919 (acting)
William Joseph McGlothlin 1919-1933
Bennette Eugene Geer 1933-1938
Robert Norman Daniel 1938 (acting)
John Laney Plyler 1939-1964
Gordon Williams Blackwell 1965-1976
John Edwin Johns 1976-1994
David Emory Shi 1994-2010
Rodney Alan Smolla 2010-2013
Carl F. Kohrt 2013-2014 (interim)
Elizabeth Davis 2014–present
Leadership and guidance to the university is provided by a board of trustees, whose 36 members meet at least three times per academic year and are elected for three-year terms. Former board members may be designated as 'Trustees Emeriti'. These include former Governor and U.S. secretary of education Richard Riley. As of 2017, current board members include Robert Blocker, dean of the school of Music at Yale University, and William Byrd Traxler Jr., Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals. Board members also come from private companies such as ExxonMobil Chemical Company (former president), AT&T (legal counsel), or Michelin (general counsel).
Under the governance of the board of trustees, Furman is led by a President. Elizabeth Davis became Furman's President on July 1, 2014. She is the 12th president of the institution, or 16th when also counting interim presidents. Twelve senior administrators manage academic and administrative departments. These administrators are composed of a provost, four academic deans, and seven other members (e.g., Chief Diversity Officer, General Counsel).
Furman offers majors and programs in 42 subjects. All students must complete general education requirements as part of the liberal arts curriculum. The general education requirements include mind and body wellness, textual analysis, two natural sciences, math/formal reasoning, two empirical studies of human behavior, history, ultimate question, foreign language, and world culture. Furman is not divided into colleges, but includes centers and institutes such as the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, the Richard W. Riley Institute and the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health.
Furman University is the highest-ranked institution of higher learning in South Carolina per Forbes, and the highest-ranked liberal arts college in South Carolina for rankings such as US News. In spring 2017, it was also ranked #13 most innovative liberal arts college by US News. It is considered to be a "more selective" school. Furman is also featured in The Princeton Review's "Best 378 Colleges" list, where it is named a "Best Southeastern College" and ranked #16 for classroom experience. Over time, Furman has also been mentioned in other specialized lists such as The Daily Beast's 2011 edition of "Most Rigorous Colleges in America", where it was ranked 2nd above Columbia, Harvard and Yale.
Furman has also been featured in rankings such as the Washington Monthly Rankings based on its production of valuable research to society and its commitment to national service, where it was ranked 15th in the nation. Its undergraduate research program has been ranked 4th in the US News Best Undergraduate Research Programs along with Stanford, MIT and Michigan. It was also ranked 30th in the nation in the SSRN´s U.S Colleges and Universities Rankings based on the choice to enroll of the highest-achieving students in US.
Publications have taken notice of several aspects of the academic experience at Furman, as well as its environmental responsibility. The university's engaged learning academic program, which promotes problem-solving, project-oriented, experience-based education, has been mentioned in The Princeton Review, Peterson's Competitive Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The College Board College Handbook. The Princeton Review featured Furman in its "Guide to 286 Green Colleges," where it received a green rating of 98, with 99 being the highest possible score. Additionally, the Sierra Club included Furman in its list of the top 50 eco-friendly universities in America. Furman received a grade of "A-" from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card in 2011. Furman takes part in the voluntary self-reporting Sustainability Tracking Assessment Ratings System where it was one of 38 institutions to achieve a gold rating.
Specific aspects of Furman have also received special attention. The landscaping and attractiveness of the campus have been recognized for many years: in 1997, Planning for Higher Education named Furman as a benchmark campus for its landscaping, while Princeton Review ranked Furman fifth in its list of beautiful campuses based on student ratings. More recently, in 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Furman as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States. Another specific part of Furman mentioned in rankings is the James B. Duke Library, which scored favorably for several years (based on student assessment of library facilities), being ranked from 7 to 12 (in 2010) by Princeton Review.
The Furman Hall is centrally located on campus.
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Furman University's campus is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the upstate region of South Carolina. A 40acre lake is a highlight of the 750acre wooded campus. Paris Mountain State Park overlooks the lake and campus. Most buildings are of Georgian-style architecture. Many academic buildings and student residences stand around the lake, including the Bell Tower, which figures highly in school insignias and is a replica of the tower that once existed on the men's campus in downtown Greenville. Today, the campus is anchored by its newly expanded 128,000-square foot James B. Duke Library. Informally known as "The Country Club of the South," Furman was named one of the 362 most beautiful places in America by the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Timmons Arena is a 4,000-seat multi-purpose arena in Greenville, in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was built in 1997 at a cost of $10.9 million by Stanmar, Inc., and is home to the Furman University Paladins basketball team since its opening on December 30, 1997.
On the north side of the lake are the four Greenbelt housing cabins, and the Cliffs Cottage. This 3,400 square feet "green" building designed by Scott Johnston is solar-powered using two panels, and features geothermal heating. Cliffs Cottage was the first sustainable showcase home for Southern Living magazine, which featured it in the article Our Most Innovative House Ever, detailing how to create a house that requires less energy and generates power. The cottage now serves as home for the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability.
Most juniors and seniors live in North Village Apartments, located on the north side of the Cliffs Cottage. The remaining upperclassmen are either placed in dorm-style residence halls or enter a lottery to receive an apartment in The Vinings, an apartment complex next to campus owned by the university. There are two other residence complexes which house freshmen and sophomores. The campus also includes an Asian Garden, the centerpiece of which is the Place of Peace, a Buddhist temple moved to the site from Japan and reconstructed by traditional carpenters. A replica of the cabin that Henry David Thoreau inhabited while writing On Walden Pond is located on the west side of the lake.
Other points of interest
The Charles E. Daniel Memorial Chapel holds events such as weddings, concerts, and lectures.
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- Bell Tower and Burnside Carillon, a 59 bell carillon by Van Bergen
- Charles Ezra Daniel Memorial Chapel's Hartness Organ
- Cherrydale Alumni House
- David E. Shi Center for Sustainability
- Doughboy Statue honoring Furman students who served in World War I
- James B. Duke Library's Special Collections & Archives department, which houses the South Carolina Baptist Historical Collection and the South Carolina Poetry Archives
- Janie Earle Furman Rose Garden
- Place of Peace and Asia Garden
- Replica of Thoreau's Walden cabin
Furman University sustainability efforts have been in keeping with national standards. Furman works to conserve, reduce, and recycle on campus, has constructed green buildings and provided students with alternative transportation. Furman has it owns farm on campus. The Furman Farm is a ¼ acre garden located beside the Cliffs Cottage and the Furman Lake. A wide variety of produce is grown throughout the year using sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotations, composting, drip lines, natural fertilizers, and integrated pest management. The university hopes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2026.
African American 5.5
Multiracial or other 2.5
In Fall 2016, Furman's 2,731 students came from 46 states and more than 50 countries. When applying to Furman, the university computes the GPA on a scale of 4.0 based on core courses . While Furman does not apply a GPA cut-off, the average unweighted GPA ranges from a 3.6 to 3.9.
Almost 90% of the financial aid to students comes in the form of scholarships and grants, with loans accounting for less than 9%.
Undergraduate student housing
All full-time students, except those who are married or living at home with their parents or guardians, are required to live on campus in university housing. Furman undergraduates can choose between south campus housing and lakeside housing. South Housing includes the Geer, Manly, Poteat, Blackwell and McGlothlin dorms. Lakeside Housing includes the Gambrell, Ramsey, Judson, Townes, McBee, Haynsworth, and Chiles dorm. All student housing has air-conditioning, closets, wireless Internet access, and washer-dryer usage. The North Village is an apartment complex that offers apartment-style living for upperclassmen. North Village apartments offer two or four bedrooms, living room, full kitchen, balcony, two vanity areas, two bathrooms and closet and storage space. Within each bedroom, a full-size bed, desk, desk chair and dresser/hutch is provided for each resident. In 2012, the annual costs for residing in the on-campus dormitories was $5,198 per student.
Furman University students are required to have a meal plan. Freshmen students are required to have an unlimited meal plan. The main dining facility is the Daniel Dining Hall. Renovated in 2006, Daniel Hall offers buffet-style dining. The PalaDen, dubbed the "P-Den" by students, offers Chick-Fil-A, Moe's Southwest Grill, among others. In 2011, a Barnes & Noble was built on campus, where students can get coffee from the Barnes & Noble Cafe which features Starbucks products. The Paddock is an updated dining area with a bar and sit-down restaurant.
Furman University Student Government Association works under a semi-Presidential system. SGA is made up of the executive council, and president, secretary, and two senators for each class. Each class elects a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Upon election council members are assigned within one of six committees to specialize in a particular area of student needs.
Fraternities and sororities
Furman University has six fraternities and eight sororities. Fraternities on campus: Beta Theta Pi, Kappa Alpha Order, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Nu. Sororities on campus: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Zeta Tau Alpha. The school also has two music based fraternities including Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a men's social fraternity with emphasis in music, along with Sigma Alpha Iota, a primarily female professional music organization.
The Timmons Arena.
Furman competes in NCAA Division I athletics, and at the FCS level in football and is one of the smallest NCAA Division I schools in the nation. Furman fields 18 men's and women's teams, as well as 16 club sports and many intramural teams. The university is a member of the Southern Conference. Furman is the only liberal arts college to be ranked in Sports Illustrated Top-100 America's Best Sports Colleges and has 32 former student-athletes competing at the professional level - the most of any Southern Conference member school.
The team nickname, the Paladins, was first used by a Greenville, South Carolina, sportswriter in the 1930s. For many years the name "Paladins" just referred to Furman's basketball team. Until 1961 the school's baseball teams were known as the "Hornets" and the football teams as the "Hurricanes". On Sept. 15, of that year, the student body voted to make "Paladins" the official nickname of all of the university's intercollegiate athletic teams.