President Elizabeth Davis
With this in mind, our Pathways Program, a mentoring and peer advising curriculum, is now a graduation requirement. The one-credit course for each semester of a student’s first two years helps them to transition to college life and develop a sense of belonging on campus. At the same time, Pathways prepares students to fully realize the benefits of The Furman Advantage, Furman’s personalized four-year pathway to graduation, by helping to deliver the education they will need to have meaningful lives and careers in a world they will also help shape.
Before the faculty voted this past spring to offer Pathways to all students, we asked our students about their experiences at Furman. The survey results showed that those who were part of the pilot program reported being more satisfied with their advising experience than students who did not participate. The early data also suggest that Pathways helps students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and students of color by increasing their retention at Furman, so they stay enrolled through graduation. Pathways also improves participation in engaged learning experiences, such as internships, research and study away. Alongside all of this, the data suggest Pathways helps students think about the future; these students had earlier and more frequent appointments with career counseling.
From the work of the President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to support for first-generation students to Pathways’ carefully scaffolded approach to the first two years, we are sending a message to students: You are not alone. You are part of a community, one that is committed to helping you thrive in college, feel a sense of belonging here, and chart your path to a meaningful life.
Even as we focus our efforts on the student experience and success after graduation, we’re aware of the view from outside. In 2021, Furman received a $25 million grant from The Duke Endowment, bringing its total direct investment in The Furman Advantage, including Pathways, to $52.5 million. And Furman was again recognized for the excellence of our undergraduate experience. This fall, Furman’s national ranking improved, placing us at No. 45 in the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings. And for the sixth year in a row, Furman was named a “Most Innovative School” by our peers, ranking No. 4 in the category this year. We are pleased to see this recognition, but we know it is only one measure of the immense value of a Furman education.
In the lab or library or on a study-away trip or in mentoring sessions, Furman faculty and staff live out their commitment to students every day in ways too numerous to list. It is this support for student thriving, resilience, reflection and belonging that forms the architecture of the Pathways Program.
Central to this approach is the recognition that we must adapt to meet the shifting demands of our society and employment landscape. We know the needs of this generation of students are different from those of previous generations – because the world and its challenges constantly change.
As you will see in the pages of this report, we’re pushed forward to meet the challenges of our mission – from our commitment to inclusive excellence, as we strive to create an institution reflective of society, to our focus on immersive, engaged learning, to our deep ties with the surrounding community. Each is crucial to providing the educational experience our students require to become engaged and responsible citizens.