Shape the Future

JohnPaul Sleiman ’21, shown working in a lab on campus, received a grant from the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium, part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Project, to study environmental conditions that may have once existed on Mars.

The history of charitable giving teaches us that generosity is timeless.

In the face of unprecedented uncertainty, what is most remarkable is the extraordinary resilience of philanthropy. While the past year has been unforgettable for so many difficult reasons, the heartfelt response from our community to the urgent needs of our students, families, faculty and staff reminds us that the spirit of community, emboldened by a commitment to caring for each other, remains fundamental to Furman.

During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 618 donor households supported Furman with $184,748 in gifts and commitments to the For Furman Fund, the emergency support fund created to help members of our community overcome the obstacles presented by COVID-19. The fund also supports student scholarships, internships, research and study away opportunities; faculty development; academic departments; student life and career development programs; our institutes; and every aspect of the university. The success of the For Furman Fund is an especially powerful reminder of the far-reaching impact of giving to Furman as the university prepares to launch a campaign in February of 2022.

The numbers tell an important story, but the personal stories told by each gift to Furman are what matter: The alumnus who doubled his gift because he wanted to help students who need more scholarship support. The families who made gifts of their room and board refunds. The alumna who increased her monthly gift because she wants other students to experience the positive impact of a Furman education in the same way she did. The student who asked how she could support the dining hall staff and housekeepers whom she had come to know and appreciate. The parents who offered to repurpose their family endowment fund to address more critical current needs.

These moments of grace – elegant acts of virtue and regeneration – are the true story of this past year.

A different kind of Dins Day

This year’s Dins Day, a 24-hour celebration of charitable giving and university pride, unfolded joyously, if only screen to screen this year. But students, alumni, family and friends were not about to miss out. Instead of cookouts and fountain hops, a tradition on the last day of classes for Furman students, the Furman community across the globe marked Dins Day with online trivia, a livestreaming workout by Furman’s strength and conditioning coach, live concerts, and a cooking demonstration by First Gentleman Charles Davis, who showed us how to make his oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Dins Day 2020 inspired 2,227 gifts totaling $1,454,692, which increased the total for all six years’ events to more than $8.8 million.

“It’s clear that health care disparities are real and they need to be addressed, and I’m incredibly proud of the fact that Furman has an avenue to study and provide solutions for these challenges.”


Wilson, a member of Furman’s Board of Trustees and physician who cares for children with eye cancer, will make a planned gift of $4 million to Furman’s Institute for the Advancement of Community Health to help improve access to health care and to expand opportunities in the profession for students from underrepresented groups.

An act of optimism

Philanthropy in support of Furman’s mission has never been more meaningful. That mission, to challenge, support, and empower lifelong learners through inquiry, experience and reflection, leads to lives of consequence and community impact. Every charitable gift, whether of time, talent or financial resources, is an act of optimism. All philanthropy is an expression of a belief in a better, more hopeful tomorrow. The world needs Furman graduates more than ever, and because of Furman, we have more reasons than ever to be optimistic.

As of June 30, 2019, Furman’s total endowment was valued at $694 million, of which $522 million was invested in the endowment pool (the portion under the decision-making authority of the university). The remainder of the endowment is separately invested or managed by other entities.

Asset Allocation

The Furman University Investment Office collaborates with the Furman Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee, the university’s vice president for finance and administration, the associate vice president for finance, a financial services controller and external consultants to preserve and enhance the purchasing power of the endowment and support the current and future operations of Furman.

The university has adopted an investment strategy that emphasizes the prudent management of risk, while working to generate long-term total return. Investments are diversified across a broad variety of asset classes – a strategy that, historically, has been shown to mitigate risk while enhancing portfolio performance.

Endowment Distribution

During the 2018-19 fiscal year, approximately $37 million was distributed from the total endowment, in accordance with the board-approved spending policy. These assets contributed approximately 23.2% to the university’s annual budget.

Average financial aid package
Percent of students who receive financial aid
Total Financial Assistance awarded to students by Furman
Funding for TFA Experiences:
Study Away Stipends
$35,315 (2019-20)
Research Stipends
$1.3 million (2019-2020)
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