A Message From the President

The ability to bounce back, to weather stress and to be better for it – at Furman, resilience means all of these things.

President Elizabeth DavisYet we are all navigating an extraordinary time. Today, resilience also demands that we meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, parrying, adapting and innovating to ensure we continue to provide students with an unparalleled education, one that enables them to become engaged, responsible citizens. With this as our focus, we’ve instituted health and safety protocols embodied in the Paladin Promise, reimagined classroom instruction and engaged-learning experiences, and taken countless other stabilizing measures throughout the university.

Our participation in The Duke Endowment’s Student Resilience and Well-Being Project has proven especially timely.

Furman was among four schools to take part in The Duke Endowment’s Student Resilience and Well-Being Project. It followed the class of 2018 from pre-matriculation through graduation. In December of 2019, the findings affirmed what we knew, that Furman students felt their holistic educational experience prepared them for life. Overall, students reported strong engagement with faculty and staff and great access to support resources and high-impact experiences. Other insights are helping to inform the ways the university can continue to distinguish the student experience and guiding the way we train advisors, emphasizing the importance of challenging but also supporting our students.

We launched The Furman Advantage in the fall of 2016 with $47 million from The Duke Endowment. It is our promise to provide every student with an educational experience that will prepare them for meaningful and successful lives and careers. So, as we think about this past year, celebrate our progress and recognize the immense difficulties that we and other institutions have overcome and may yet face, we draw on our resilience.

This year, we published a digital-only President’s Report, a decision that reflects our commitment to adapting to our new financial dynamics. It is through these choices, big and small but cumulatively critical, that we seek to enable our faculty and staff to focus on the experience of our students.

After all, that student experience – a mix of mentoring, reflection, engaged learning experiences and a sense of belonging – is the “true magic” of college that the Gallup-Purdue Index leader reminded us of this year in Forbes magazine. It’s a formula for success that must be replicated for each student.

“Furman University, through their ‘Furman Advantage’ is one example that has done so in recent years,” Brandon Busteed wrote in the Forbes piece this past August. “What it requires is serious intentionality and framing these experiences as core to the academic mission of the university.”

As you can see, we are making progress in a variety of ways, from student success to expanding and strengthening our community connections to increasing our diversity and inclusion. Please join us in learning from the challenges of this moment and welcoming what the future brings.

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