“Furman challenges you to be the best version of yourself — to venture out of your comfort zone, delve into experiences in and outside of the classroom, and really grow as a person.”
— RISH AGARWAL ’19, INDIA
Graduate Student at the Wake Forest School of Business
Task Force on
Slavery and Justice
With the support of the Board of Trustees and the president and provost, the Task Force on Slavery and Justice was formed in the spring of 2017 to examine Furman University’s historical connections to slavery and to help Furman better understand and learn from its past. This pursuit
built upon Furman’s principles as an academic institution that embraces liberal arts and sciences ideals, including a high regard for human value, reflection, innovation and ceaseless accuracy. The process was guided by scholarship and undergraduate research in communication studies, history, sociology and sustainability, among other departments, and led by students, faculty, staff and alumni.
We cannot change history, but we can show in real and meaningful ways that we are true champions of a more inclusive future.
In October 2018, the Board of Trustees accepted the task force report, “Seeking Abraham,” endorsed expanding the Joseph Vaughn Scholarship to a $1 million annual award, and designated $3 million in endowment to ensure it is offered in perpetuity, and they encouraged the administration and faculty to move forward in considering the report’s other recommendations not under the board’s purview, including curriculum and co-curricular activities and programming.
In May 2019, the university announced that the board unanimously approved additional recommendations, including removing the name of the university’s first president, James C. Furman, from the building located at the heart of campus, and renaming it Furman Hall, in honor and celebration of the entire Furman family and all of the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have contributed to the history of the university. Read the “Seeking Abraham” report to learn more about the approved recommendations at furman.edu/tfsj.
The pace of growth
Students’ maturation from adolescence to adulthood requires scaffolded challenges and timely support. Without academic and social challenges, students fail to grow. However, too much challenge without support may be overwhelming. Furman professors and staff understand that determining when to push and when to intervene is as complex as each student’s individualized path.
Based on data from Furman’s four-year resiliency study funded by The Duke Endowment, support groups were launched for students dealing with sexual trauma, the loss of loved ones, and anxiety and stress. Additionally, Furman recently hired three professionals of color into senior roles at our counseling and health centers and added groups that provide space for students to explore their transgender identity as well as black identity.
In concert with the Associated Colleges of the South, Furman professors developed inclusive pedagogy workshops that trained nearly a quarter of our faculty. Safe Zone trainings prepared professors and practitioners to support LGBT+ students. The Pathways Advising Program, a first- and second-year advising model, welcomed a second cohort of students to participate in a curriculum specifically designed around the challenges identified by Furman’s four-year resiliency study, with a result that students reported a greater sense of belonging and support at Furman as compared to their peers.
Finally, Furman’s university-wide effort to support students who are first in their family to attend college was recognized by naming Furman a “First Forward” campus in an inaugural cohort of institutions across the country, 16 of which were among the top 50 in U.S. News and World Report-ranked schools.
Extending the promise
International recruitment remains a top priority for the university, as we continue to elevate the exposure and reputation of Furman around the world. These students bring not only a diversity of thought and a greater understanding of other cultures but also enable other students to learn firsthand about global issues.
• Focused recruiting efforts in Asia (China, India and Japan), Southeast Asia (Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea) and South America (Brazil, Colombia and Chile).
• Participated in private college fairs, presentations, workshops, case studies and small- group travel.
• Hosted workshops and webinars through EducationUSA Advising Centers.
• Partnered with Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and five high schools in Mexico to increase scholarship offerings.
• Brought the AGAPE English Language Institute to Furman to support English proficiency for incoming international students.
• Collaborated with 17 United World Colleges high schools to expand recruitment.