Elizabeth Davis became Furman University’s 12th President on July 1, 2014. Under her leadership, the university has instituted The Furman Advantage, a distinctive vision for higher education that combines learning with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers and community benefit. The groundbreaking effort was launched in October 2016 with a $47 million grant from The Duke Endowment.
In September 2018, the National Society of Experiential Education recognized President Davis’ efforts to launch The Furman Advantage by selecting her as the recipient of the William M. Burke Presidential Award for Excellence in Experiential Education. The annual award recognizes a sitting college president who has made “significant contributions to experiential education.”
President Davis is a member of the Council of Presidents, an advisory group of college and university chief executives who provide guidance to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges on issues of governance in higher education. She is also a member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Board of Directors.
Dr. Davis serves on the Board of Directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and is an honorary member of the Board of Governors of the Commerce Club. She is a member of the Greenville Rotary Club, American Council on Education’s Women’s Network Executive Committee, and the South Carolina Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission. She has been recognized by Greenville Business Magazine as one of Greenville’s “50 Most Influential People.”
Dr. Davis has addressed numerous organizations in the Upstate since arriving at Furman, and she has also spoken throughout the U.S. on issues involving higher education, university leadership and financial management. She has been quoted in national media, written op-eds for The Greenville News, University Business and other publications, and done many interviews on radio and television on the subject of higher education.
Before coming to Furman, Dr. Davis spent 22 years at Baylor University in Texas, where she most recently held the position of Executive Vice President and Provost. In addition to being a member of the accounting faculty at Baylor, she also served as Vice Provost for Financial and Academic Administration, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Business Programs, and Acting Chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law. Before beginning her higher education career, she spent three years at Arthur Andersen & Co. in New Orleans.
Dr. Davis received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baylor in 1984 and earned her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1992. She and her husband, Charles, have two children, Chad and Claire.
Read “A Legacy of Hope,” President Davis’s inaugural address.
Read the 2020 President’s Report.
Interested in having President Davis appear at your event? Complete our request form.
Constructed in 1957, White Oaks serves as home to the president. This 9,750 square-foot mansion was bequeathed to Furman in 1992 by Homozel Mickel Daniel. White Oaks has hosted ambassadors, governors and even a president–Richard Nixon.
The stately house was built by Daniel Construction Company, which was founded and headed by Mrs. Daniel’s husband, Charles E. Daniel. It was based on the restored Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia, but is larger and more extensively landscaped.
Located less than a mile from campus, the architectural jewel was designed by the noted architect Philip Trammell Shutze of Atlanta. Known as an American Classicist, Shutze frequently took as his inspiration Italian villas or 18th-century American houses. He was especially noted for the fine detailing in his buildings.
The interiors are original creations, and a number, including the entry hall and dining room, feature exquisite carvings by master craftsman Herbert Millard. The home is also graced by the lovely antiques Mrs. Daniel collected, many of them Georgian, and numerous fine oil paintings.
Shutze situated the house on the crest of a hill and surrounded it with formal landscaping typical of the 18th century. Guests are especially charmed by the English garden and restored rose garden.
White Oaks hosts a variety of community and university events.