Bell Tower Ball

Furman University holds an annual donor appreciation gala to recognize the service, leadership, and accomplishments of members of the Furman community.  At the Bell Tower Ball, awards are presented to distinguished alumni, parents, and friends in celebration of extraordinary achievement.

Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award

The Blackwell Award recognizes an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to Furman University or the greater community, advancing Furman’s position as a private institution with a public mission.

2024 Award Recipient

James “Jim” Ney ’64

In 1984, Jim co-founded Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman, LLP where he practiced until his retirement in 2020. Following law school, Jim served two years as law assistant to the presiding justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and later served as the clerk of the State Board of Bar Examiners and as an instructor at John Marshall School of Law. In 1968, he joined Alston & Bird where he practiced 14 years and became a partner in 1973. He was special assistant attorney general of the State of Georgia for three years and served as special attorney general for the State of Ohio. He has chaired the Real Estate Section of the Atlanta Bar, receiving its first annual award of merit. He was also selected for all editions of the “Best Lawyers in America,” 1983-2018.

Jim has given his time and leadership expertise to several boards in the Atlanta area including the board of trustees for the Schenck School (for children with learning disabilities) and for Community Friendship, which works with intellectually disabled adults. In 1995, he was the recipient of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce award for “Outstanding Community Service.” He served on the board of trustees of the Atlanta Academy and Cobb County Library Foundation. Through the Ney family’s support, the Cobb County Library Foundation offers the Jim & Carol Ney Literary Award in honor of extraordinary books and exceptional authors. The Carol and Jim Ney Art Gallery in Cobb County recognizes the couple’s service and philanthropy.

In 2022, Jim joined the ranks of Furman Trustee Emeriti after years of service, finishing his final term as secretary. In addition to serving on the Furman board, Jim has served the Alumni Board, Annual Giving Council and the Campaign Executive Committee. He and Carol served six years as co-chairs of the Richard Furman Society and were the 2006 recipients of Furman’s “Bell Tower Award.” They are the 2011-2012 “Distinguished Service Award” recipients from the Southern Conference on behalf of Furman. Jim is a longtime member of the Order of the Paladin. He and Carol are members of the Benefactor’s Circle and the Legacy Society and enduring supporters of numerous athletic funds, the Partners Scholarship Program, Bryan Center for Military Science, James B. Duke Library, Mock Trial and the Furman Standard.

Jim earned a bachelor’s in economics at Furman in 1964. He was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity and a member of the Paladin Football team. He received his J.D. from the University of Georgia in 1966.

He and his wife Carol Nichols Ney ’67 have six grandchildren and three daughters – Lynn Smith ’84, Karen Tracy ’88 and Arden Brewer (Salem College ’94).

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Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award

The Triplitt Award recognizes an alumnus/a who graduated in the past 20 years and who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments or as a volunteer.

2024 Award Recipient

Keenan Adams ’05

Keenan Adams is a wildlife and ecological biologist who has had a direct impact on sustainability and wildlife management practices across the nation and the world. The first African American to hold the position, Keenan has served as forest supervisor of the El Yunque Forest in Puerto Rico since 2019. Keenan’s career in federal service spans 15 years, working in multiple agencies across the South, Colorado, New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Keenan is responsible for some of the nation’s most biodiverse federal lands, comprising more than 29,000 acres and the Forest Service’s only tropical rain forest. Keenan’s professional goal is to work at the “intersection of conservation and community” as he focuses on guiding the tourism industry to be thoughtful about long-term goals and practices that promote sustainability and consider the impacts of climate change.

In 2018, Keenan was selected as El Yunque’s deputy forest supervisor where he oversaw the initiative for developing an interagency agreement to assist in recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. He previously served as the biological resources division chief in Colorado for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was field lead for the U.S. Department of the Interior for hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. He worked as an ecologist and deputy refuge manager for the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System and as a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service. Keenan began his career with the Forest Service as an intern in the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico in 2004.

Keenan is on the board of directors of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and Fundación Amigos De El Yunque. He is also passionate about advising young professionals and encourages them to adopt a healthy work-life balance, which he believes leads to greater productivity. He was named to the 2021 Caribbean Business “Top 40 under 40” for his contribution to El Yunque’s recovery, his community and the tourism economy. In 2016, the Clemson Young Alumni Council named Keenan to the “Roaring 10,” young alumni who have made an impact in business, leadership and community.

A member of the Paladin Football team, Keenan received a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2005. He received a master’s in forest resources in 2007 and a Ph.D. in wildlife biology in 2010 from Clemson University. Keenan was born on a military base in Germany but calls South Carolina home. He and his wife, Delissa Padilla Nieves, have a young daughter, Paola.



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Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award

The Kohrt Award is presented in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman University.

2024 Award Recipient

Angela Walker Franklin ’81

Angela, who became Des Moines University’s 15th president in the spring of 2011, has worked in higher education for more than 35 years at such institutions including Meharry Medical College in Nashville and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Angela published the university account, “Now is the Time, Des Moines is the Place,” which chronicles more than 100 years’ history of training health care professionals. In December 2018, she launched Purple and Proud, a $25 million fundraising campaign whose goal was surpassed a year later. The campaign continues with fundraising efforts focused on the transformative vision for building an entirely new campus on 88 acres of land in West Des Moines. Angela led efforts to plan and design the new campus, which opened in 2023

Angela serves on the boards of UnityPoint Health, Bankers Trust, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Harkin National Advisory Council. She is chair of the Assembly of Presidents of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and was recently asked to serve on the AACOM Adaptive Work Group Addressing Racism in Healthcare and the George Washington Carver Statuary Hall Project. A former board member of the Association of Academic Health Centers, she later served on the board when the AAHC merged with the Association of American Medical Colleges. She is a past board member of the United Way of Central Iowa and the Science Center of Iowa. Angela is past chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Workforce Development/Education Board, the United Way Health Cabinet, the American Heart Association “Go Red for Women” movement, the 2015 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes and the Greater Des Moines Partnership Community Health Needs Assessment/Mental Health Workgroup.

In May 2022, Angela was honored by the AACOM with the Dale S. Dodson Award recognizing her contributions to the advancement and support of osteopathic medical education. She was also inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. Among other awards, Angela has received the 2017 American Psychological Association Training Advisory Committee Special Award, 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, 2015 Mary McLeod Bethune Award (Educator of the Year) from the Iowa Juneteenth Observance Committee, and the 2014 Women of Influence Award from the Des Moines Business Record.

Franklin is author of the memoir, “An Unconventional Journey… An Unlikely Choice,” which recounts her path to the college presidency. She has been featured in several local and national publications and is a coveted speaker for topics such as women leaders, transformative leadership and building a culturally competent and diverse workforce.

Angela graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1981. She was a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, member of the band and was active in Heller Service Corps. From Emory University, she received her master’s in 1983 and Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1985.

Angela is a former Furman trustee and served on the Alumni Board and Parent and Family Council. She and her husband Thad are parents to Wes ’07 and Grant (Drake University).

Honorary Alumni Award

The Honorary Alumni Award commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman University but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.

2024 Award Recipient

Minor Mickel Shaw

One of Greenville County’s most distinguished business and civic leaders, Minor is president of private investment company Micco LLC, chair of The Daniel-Mickel Foundation, and trustee of The Duke Endowment and the Hollingsworth Funds.

Minor has amassed numerous awards recognizing her involvement in civic, educational, philanthropic and business activities. They include the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor; the David Wilkins Citizenship Award from The Riley Institute; the Chairman’s Award and the Athena Award from the Greenville Chamber of Commerce; the Spirit Award from the United Way of Greenville County; and the James F. Barker Ethics in Action award from the Rutland Institute at Clemson University. She is also a recipient of the Whitney Young Humanitarian Award from the Urban League of the Upstate, a laureate of the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, and the 2022 recipient of the Council of Independent Colleges’ Charles W.L. Foreman Award.

Minor’s board representation is a testament to her commitment to growth and economic development. This includes chairing the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport Commission and serving as a board member of the Foundation and Corporate Boards of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the Columbia Funds Board of Trustees, the South Carolina Historical Society, and International African American Museum. She has served on the boards of the Belle Baruch Foundation, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Piedmont Natural Gas, MDC, the Duke Energy Advisory Board and the Palmetto Institute. She was also co-chair of the Southeastern US/Japan Association from 2016-18 and helped to found CommunityWorks Carolina.

She has served as chairperson of the United Way of Greenville, United Way of South Carolina, Community Foundation of Greenville, Junior League of Greenville, Urban League of the Upstate, YMCA of Greenville, and the South Carolina ETV Endowment. She served on the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities board for 14 years, including as chair, and was recognized as a life trustee in 2011. She served as chair of The Duke Endowment Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2022.

Her commitment to education is evidenced by her service to several institutions. She was a founder of the Roper Mountain Science Center and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She has served as chair of the Wofford College Board of Trustees and the SC Foundation for Independent Colleges, and held a seat on the boards of the University Center of Greenville and the UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation. She is a trusted advisor and tireless advocate for Furman University including her work with The Riley Institute and as founding member and national chair of FurmanWIN.

Minor is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a recipient of honorary degrees from Wofford College, Furman University, Clemson University and Frances Marion University. She and her husband Dr. Harold Ellis Shaw Jr. have 10 grandchildren and three children – Katie Shaw Howell ’99, Anne Carter Shaw Lowrance and Harold E. Shaw III.

Wayne and Rubye Reid Alumni Career Services Award

The Reid Award is named in honor of Wayne ’68 and Rubye Reid and recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.

2024 Recipient

Paul Foster, Kylie Felker, and Rob Victor posing together

Foster Victor Wealth Advisors: Paul Foster ’02, Kylie Felker ’09 and Rob Victor ’09

The Reid Award is named in honor of Wayne ’68 and Rubye Reid and recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.

Foster Victor Wealth Advisors is a premier, full-service financial planning firm based in Greenville. Clients receive concierge-quality advisory and planning services customized to help them achieve individual goals. By focusing on clients’ diverse financial strategies and life-plans, the company provides a coordinated, efficient and effective path to financial security. Furman honors three individuals from the firm.

Paul Foster ’02

As one of the founding members of the Foster Victor team, Paul is committed to helping families and small business owners succeed with both financial and legacy planning. With more than two decades of financial planning experience, Paul focuses on providing the Foster Victor standard of care from responsiveness and accuracy to customizing financial plans for each family. Among other certifications, he has achieved the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor designation.

An active member of the Greenville community, Paul often gives his time to the USC School of Medicine, Family Enterprise Institute and Furman. He is also a member of  YPO, the Young Presidents Organization. As a former teammate of Furman Men’s Basketball, Paul is heavily involved in mentoring the team. He previously served on the former Paladin Club Board and has volunteered with The Hill Institute’s thought leadership forum, Advantage Greenville. He serves on the advisory board for UCBI and the Circle of Excellence Board for the Reserve at Lake Keowee.

Paul received a Bachelor of Arts in history in 2002. He and his wife Reagin are parents to five children – Kendall, Collyn, Luke, Brooks and Ellie.

Kylie (Kotowski) Felker ’09

Kylie’s career with Foster Victor began with her post as chief operating officer. Promoted to president in 2022, Kylie leads the strategic direction of the firm and encourages innovative ideas to deliver world-class planning to clients. She ensures proper allocation of resources to create successful relationships and encourages the professional development of the Foster Victor team through short-term and long-term goal planning. Her favorite part of the role is being surrounded by a team of thoughtful, hard-working professionals who inspire her every day. Kylie also serves as chief compliance officer, shaping policies and procedures to reflect the financial industry’s ever-changing regulatory requirements. She was awarded the Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional designation by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.

Kylie serves on the board of the Greenville Local Development Corporation. She was honored as “Best and Brightest Under 35” by Greenville Business Magazine in 2014 and was recognized by Women We Admire as one of The Top 50 Women Leaders of South Carolina for 2023. She is devoted to her community and has given of her time and expertise with numerous board positions including secretary of The Mujer Project, a member of Hands on Greenville, chair of Blue Tent (formerly Camp Opportunity) and member of the Emrys board. Kylie remains involved with Furman, having served on the Young Alumni Council and serving as a mentor for the Pathways Program.

Kylie received a Bachelor of Arts in accounting in 2009 and was a member of Kappa Delta. She received an Executive MBA from the University of North Carolina in 2022. She and her husband Justin are parents to a young son, Aidan.

Rob Victor ’09

Rob is principal at Foster Victor. In 2016, he and Furman alumnus Paul Foster ’02 established the firm after working together at Northwestern Mutual. The firm’s purpose is to build life-changing relationships through love, gratitude and world-class advice.

Rob is committed to providing an unmatched wealth management experience by developing enduring relationships with the firm’s clients. His methodical approach and easygoing demeanor benefit clients young and old.

Rob serves on the Leadership Council of The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is a young benefactor for the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and his firm supports a yearly scholarship for a graduating senior to continue their education in the arts. As a former Furman men’s soccer player, Victor works closely with the team as a mentor. He previously served on the Bon Secours St. Francis Foundation Board and the boards of the Greenville Football Club and the Paladin Club, now known as the Paladin Scholarship Fund.

Rob received a Bachelor of Arts in accounting in 2009. In addition to Men’s Soccer, he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and served as a library assistant. Rob and his wife Carley are parents to Cole and Claire.

University Partnership Award

The University Partnership Award honors an individual or organization who has worked with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.

2024 Recipient

LiveWell Greenville logo

The University Partnership Award honors an individual or organization who has worked with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.

The connection between Furman University and LiveWell Greenville dates to 2008 when researchers from the Department of Health Sciences, in partnership with the Piedmont Health Foundation, conducted a study focused on youth obesity that ultimately resulted in the launch of the wellness nonprofit in 2011. The relationship has continued to grow through a formal connection with The Furman Institute for the Advancement of Community Health.

LiveWell Greenville is a coalition of more than 250 partner organizations focused on policy, systems and environment changes aimed at ensuring all Greenville County residents have equitable access to healthy food and active living opportunities. A prime example of their mission in action is the Greenville County Food Insecurity Index, a collaboration between the IACH and The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities. The IACH also co-wrote, supported implementation of and evaluated the impact of the BUILD Health Challenge project, which seeks to reduce racial disparities in youth obesity along the White Horse Road corridor.

Another connection between Furman and LiveWell Greenville is the Equity in Public Health Initiative, which also includes the Hispanic Alliance, the Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission, Piedmont Health Foundation and Clemson University. The Equity in Public Health Initiative seeks to improve the health of Black and Hispanic individuals in Greenville County and was one of only 10 communities in the nation to be awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Minority Health.

As LiveWell’s principal investigator and co-writer of the grant proposal, Melissa Fair, director of community action for the IACH, serves on the steering committee and oversees the research and evaluation component for the initiative. Shaniece Criss, assistant professor of health sciences, serves as collaborating evaluator, leading the qualitative component of the policy study.

LiveWell and the IACH are embarking on their largest research and evaluation partnership yet through a more than $5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program. Over the next five years, the IACH will help evaluate LiveWell Greenville’s impact on improving healthy food access and physical activity opportunities in communities of color. Partnering organizations include the Urban League of the Upstate, Hispanic Alliance, Bon Secours St. Francis, Unity Health on Main, and Just Say Something, among others.

LiveWell Greenville has a long history of supporting Furman students by providing internships and research fellowships. Furman alumni have served as volunteers and staff members with LiveWell Greenville and its partner organizations.

Engaged Parent Award

The Engaged Parent Award is presented to the parent or parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation of their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.

2024 Award Recipient

Carolyn Holcomb

The Engaged Parent Award is presented to the parent or parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation of their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.

Carolyn is a partner with PwC with nearly 30 years of experience helping both U.S. and global clients manage risk and systems of internal control, specializing in privacy, cybersecurity, information technology, data governance and ESG (environmental, social and governance). She led the formation of today’s PwC Privacy Practice in 2010. Carolyn has also helped numerous organizations implement the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation and other regulations. She actively advises her clients on ESG strategies and roadmaps for enhancing their internal processes and ESG disclosures. She helps organizations build, enhance and implement their data governance and ESG programs to ensure they will be sustainable over the long term.

In 2012, Women in Technology honored Holcomb as the Woman of the Year in Technology among Large Enterprises in Georgia to celebrate the accomplishments of women executives who are leaders and visionaries in both business and community. She is a frequent guest on shows including “Inside America’s Boardrooms,” and is often quoted in media outlets such as Reuters TV,, Compliance Week, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Carolyn is a CPA as well as a Certified Information Privacy Professional and Certified Information Systems Auditor. She hold a Bachelor of Science degree in math from Bucknell University and an MBA from Georgia Tech.

Carolyn and her husband Zach have two children, Sarah ’25 and Alex. She is passionate about philanthropy and helping the community. She served on the board of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for many years, was a Girl Scout troop leader for 11 years, and frequently participates in Rise Against Hunger, packaging meals to end hunger. In service to Furman, she is an active volunteer with the Clearly Furman National Campaign Committee, Parent and Family Council, and the Department of Business and Accounting.

2024 Bell Tower Ball Photos

Here are a few highlights from the 2024 Bell Tower Ball.

Celebrate our Giving Society members!

Guests of the Bell Tower Ball are members of the White Oaks Society, Rose Garden Society and Bell Tower Society.