Chief Diversity Officer transition

August, 19, 2021

Dear Furman Community,

I write to share that Michael Jennings is stepping away from his role as Chief Diversity Officer, after serving for four years in the position. During his tenure, we have made many advances in our efforts to be a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution, and I have no doubt that progress will continue.

Dr. Jennings shared: It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the university’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer and to work with so many members of the Furman family to make our community more diverse and inclusive. While we have had a great deal of success, there is still much work to do and I am confident that Furman is on the right track for greater success.”

I would like to thank Dr. Jennings and all involved for their hard work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our most recent successes include the creation of the Joseph Vaughn Plaza and dedication of a statue of Joseph Vaughn; the rollout of a university-wide Strategic Diversity Plan; the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Black Life at Furman, and the establishment of the Black Alumni Council. We remain committed to building on this momentum and moving forward on important DEI initiatives. To support these efforts this year, we will implement university DEI training and conduct a campus climate survey this fall.

This work has not happened in a vacuum. It was preceded by the efforts of many and included the success of the Task Force on Slavery and Justice and the ongoing work of our DEI Committee and the Center for Inclusive Communities, among others. The work of these groups has led to a more diverse and inclusive community as Furman has witnessed an increase in the number of students, faculty, and staff of color.

I expect to name an interim Chief Diversity Officer after a review of the role and structure of the position, and eventually conduct a national search. I am grateful that Dr. Jennings will continue to serve in an advisory role as we develop a transition plan and carry out DEI initiatives in the coming year. As Chief Diversity Officer, he has provided expert counsel and helped us to create a plan and develop a culture that allow us to have the courageous conversations necessary for confronting our challenges and advancing our DEI goals.

We will continue to confront these challenges with courage, determination, and humility.


Elizabeth Davis