A sense of belonging frees our students to develop authentically. It frees them to take risks and make mistakes, to course correct and to lean on a community of mentors as they make their way along their personalized pathway. Each incoming class finds faculty who not only reflect academic preeminence but stand before them as vibrant proof that the transition to college can unfurl into a life of impact.
This support, mentoring and modeling are fundamental to a Furman education.
Since launching The Furman Advantage in 2016, Furman has adapted its critical analysis of the student experience to better deliver on its promise, landing Furman at the forefront of universities focusing on student belonging. Our strategic vision aligns community engagement with a knowledge of privilege. This allows our students to build coalitions of citizens who seek to advance equitable social change across race, socioeconomics, political affiliation, religion, ability, sexuality, regionalism, gender identity and more.
The Center for Inclusive Communities supports the immediate and long-term success of Furman’s historically underrepresented students. Using current research on belonging, well-being and career engagement helps to ensure that Furman graduates appreciate difference and are prepared to make a lasting impact.
To achieve this …
- In the spring, our Student Office for Accessibility Resources, dedicated to providing an accessible, inclusive and sustainable learning environment for students with disabilities, leveraged its creativity and technology in the shift to remote learning for students who require accommodations.
- We launched the Out at Furman website, which features LGBT+ faculty and staff to build a supportive community that celebrates the diversity of sexuality and gender expression found throughout campus.
- We developed the Interfaith Scholars program, providing students with both intensive experiential learning and a role in developing campus-based programs to foster interfaith conversations. A grant from Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to make interfaith cooperation a social norm, supported the program.
- To support students after campus closed in the spring, the Office of Student Life launched a new webpage where students can access virtual counseling and connect with a host of health and wellness resources, along with ever-growing ways to stay socially connected.
- This year, Furman joined 30 other institutions in the inaugural cohort of First Scholars Network. It will allow us to align measurable goals with institutional data to identify our gaps, track progress, and create systems to help students succeed. Eight percent of the class of 2023 are first-generation students. Nationally, about 60% of colleges collect information on whether students are first-generation, only 40% use that data to develop first-generation-specific programs, and 20% share the information with faculty advisors. At Furman, we do all three, and our graduation rate is three times the national average.
Furman continued Dins Dialogues, co-curricular, peer-facilitated workshops designed to equip students with the skills to collaborate across their differences in a diverse and global world as they work to create lasting change in their communities. Workshop topics include identity and privilege, implicit bias, community engagement and active citizenship. Nearly 50 workshops were offered in the past year to student organizations, classes and the Pathways program. Dins Dialogues complement the curricular intergroup dialogue courses that last seven weeks and cover topics such as race, gender and political identity.