Furman bell tower reflection

Ad Hoc Committee on Black Life at Furman

Report to President Elizabeth Davis

December 8, 2020

This Report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Black Life at Furman (the “Committee”) is prepared for President Elizabeth Davis of Furman University. President Davis established the Committee to aid her ongoing consideration of strategies and actions to address the wide range of issues emanating from the University’s commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. [See our early steps to address the report’s recommendations.]

As discussed in Part III, the establishment of a sense of belonging for the University’s Black students, faculty, staff and alumni is the overarching theme of this Report. The Committee views it as the fundamental imperative that should animate the University’s current and future actions to address the matters covered in this Report. The Committee is presenting six primary recommendations, five of which contain several recommended action steps (or targeted outcomes) to implement the primary recommendation. They are set forth in Part IV.

Parts I through III contain important background and contextual information for considering the recommendations in this Report.

I. Background: The Petition and the Formal Response

In the summer of 2020 – almost two years after the release of the “Seeking Abraham” report by the University’s Task Force on Slavery and Justice – the University received a petition (the “Petition”) from a cohort of Black Furman alumni, which was captioned “A Call to Action: End Racism at Furman University Today!” The Petition followed in the wake of the creation of an Instagram account titled “Black at Furmanuni”, which shared shocking personal stories by several Black alumni about racism at Furman during their tenure as students.
While acknowledging and thanking President Davis for her personal leadership in attempting to address many of its concerns, the Petition made several condemning accusations against the University for its past and current failures to effectively address anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The Petition concluded with seven sections that set forth specific demands or requests for corrective actions or commitments by the University. Prefatory to those sections, the Petition accused the University of: “abdicating its responsibility to uplift Black students”; having “consistently reinforced the white supremacy at its [the University’s] core”; and having a “commitment to racial justice . . . [that is] largely historical and symbolic.”
President Davis and the University’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Michael Jennings, responded to the Petition in a joint statement dated July 20, 2020, addressed to the Furman Community (the “Formal Response”). The Formal Response recognized and acknowledged “the horrific and painful stories and calls for anti-racism” presented by the Petition, and the Formal Response addressed specifically, and in turn, each of the seven sections in which the Petition demanded or requested corrective actions or
commitments.
Without contesting the sincerity or accuracy of the Petition’s accusations, the Formal Response recognized that the Petition “does not represent the full spectrum of Black voices in Furman’s community.” Accordingly, the Formal Response announced that President Davis would form a working group of Black alumni, students, faculty and staff to help guide the University in reviewing its practices and developing action steps to address the issues raised by (or emanating from) the Petition.
That working group was to be co-chaired by Dr. Jennings and Dr. Idella Glenn, who is a Black Furman alumna who served as Furman’s diversity officer from 1996 to 2014. It was formed as announced, and it has become this Committee. The 15 members (and two ex officio members) of the Committee are listed in Appendix B.

II. Notable University Initiatives, Commitments, Constructs, Etc.

The several initiatives and commitments referenced in the Formal Response are laudable and are conceptually responsive to the concerns raised by the Petition. In most instances, they are also specific with respect to corrective actions proposed by the University in response to the Petition’s demands and only a few specific demands in the Petition were unaddressed. The Committee applauds President Davis and Dr. Jennings for the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of the Formal Response.
It is important to note that the University indeed has several policies, initiatives and constructs that target important aspects of its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. They include the following, as well as several matters being implemented because of recommendations from the Task Force on Slavery and Justice in connection with its “Seeking Abraham” report:

  • A Chief Diversity Officer position (since 2017), which is held by Dr. Jennings, reports directly to the President and is a part of the President’s senior administrative team.
  • A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which has a diverse membership of faculty and staff, a mission of creating a campus culture that reflects the character and values of the institution, and includes two subcommittees that focus respectively on “Faculty Recruitment, Advancement and Tenure” and “Staff Recruitment, Advancement and Training”.
  • A Center for Inclusive Communities (established in August 2017) that provides a dedicated physical space and staffing for sponsoring a variety of programs, initiatives and support services for historically underrepresented students and for encouraging all students to engage critically and constructively with topics of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • A Black Alumni Council formed by the President as part of a select group of affinity-based councils with whom she has ongoing strategic interactions.
  • Myriad policies relating to anti-discrimination, acts of intolerance, bias incidents reporting and the like.
  • Ongoing work to develop and implement a University-wide Strategic Diversity Plan.
  • Ongoing work to establish a Furman Black Alumni Association.
  • Several initiatives in the academic affairs area that target more inclusive hiring practices, curriculum expansion and evolution, and faculty enlightenment and training on issues of antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion, which initiatives include implicit bias training for all departments; guidance on advertising and outreach to enhance recruitment of diverse faculty; individual interviews of all on-campus faculty candidates by the Chief Diversity Office and representatives of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

These initiatives and constructs are important indicators that the University is not passive with respect to the issues that provoked the Petition. All of them have the potential to generate substantial progress by the University – especially the development of a Strategic Diversity Plan, if it is indeed Universitywide and comprehensive – and all of them are applauded by the Committee. They stand as evidence that the University’s focus on anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion is not “largely historical and symbolic”. However, as discussed more specifically below, even in the aggregate, they will not ensure success by the University in addressing those matters effectively.
In conducting its work, the Committee recognized some fundamental themes that underlie the concerns raised by the Petition, but that are not identified as such by the Petition or addressed in the Formal Response.
The Committee believes that recognizing explicitly, and addressing effectively, those fundamental themes are imperatives for the University’s ability to succeed with the laudable conceptual commitments it expressed in the Formal Response or has otherwise made.
The Committee believes that the likelihood of its recognition of such themes is a part of President Davis’ rationale for establishing the Committee and seeking its input. Accordingly, this Report organizes its primary recommendations (and related recommended action steps and targeted outcomes) around the clear statement and exposition of those themes.
The Committee has also prepared, as Appendix A to this Report, a concordance that indicates the respective specific portions of this Report that address the issues as raised in the seven demand/request sections of the Petition.

III. Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives

The Committee believes that, when all else has been said and considered, the core concern and plea underlying the Petition is the desire for an environment at Furman, from top to bottom, from orientation to graduation and beyond, that fosters “a sense of belonging” by Furman’s Black alumni, students, faculty and staff. (For convenience, that grouping is sometimes referred to herein as Furman’s “Black constituency”.)

If a person feels a sense of belonging to an institution or organization, it is almost certain that the person has been engaged effectively by the institution or organization. That the person is being seen and heard by it. That the person does not feel ignored or neglected by it. That the person feels safe within it. That the person feels, because of tangible and systemic things being done, that the affinity group with which the person self-identifies is respected, valued and embraced by the institution or organization.

The absence of a sense of belonging will manifest itself in many ways, such as the factors that led to the Petition per se, and the fact that giving to the University by most of its Black alumni is minuscule. Conversely, the pursuit of a sense of belonging for Furman’s Black constituency will likely lead to specific initiatives and actions that are more effective in implementing the conceptual commitments the University has already made or is willing to make.

Accordingly, the development and maintenance of such a sense of belonging is the overarching theme for most of the recommendations, action steps and targeted outcomes set forth in this Report. The Committee also believes it should be the guiding ethos for the University’s ongoing work to achieve meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion as a core value in the intellectual and social life of the University – akin to the Formal Response’s reference to “the pursuit of inclusive excellence”.

The theme of “Coordinated and Systemic Communications” is another paramount imperative identified by the Committee. Among other reasons, effective implementation of it would likely have avoided the most severe accusations stated in the Petition, if not stayed its delivery and publication entirely. It is notable, for example, that the Petition reflects an unawareness by its authors of the status of the University’s acceptance (and active pursuit) of several key recommendations of the University’s Task Force on Slavery and Justice in its “Seeking Abraham” report. Because the University’s actions had not been communicated effectively to its Black constituency, the authors of the Petition may have been unaware of them.

The theme of “An Empowered and Accountable Administrative Infrastructure” may well be the first among equal imperatives for the University’s success with its conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. It recognizes that, while the University has established several constructs for useful exploration and dialogue about the numerous issues emanating from its
conceptual commitments, the University’s current administrative infrastructure is not designed to ensure the systematic, timely and effective conversion of such explorations and dialogues into tangible, impactful and measurably successful outcomes.

The Committee believes that the University will not be able to address effectively the wide range of issues that are implicated by its conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion unless and until the University reorganizes, staffs and funds its senior administrative functions with those commitments at the forefront of the University’s considerations. In addition to this theme being the focus of a specific primary recommendation, several of the Committee’s other recommendations relate to this theme, or depend upon its implementation for them to be realized.

IV. Recommendations and Action Steps

The Committee is making six primary recommendations, five of which contain several recommended action steps (or targeted outcomes) to implement the primary recommendation. Appendix A to this Report contains a concordance that indicates where specific recommendations, action steps or targeted outcomes in this Report address issues as they are raised in the seven demand/request sections of the
Petition.

A. Proactive Engagements with Furman’s Black Constituency: “A Sense of Belonging”
For the reasons discussed in Part III, the Committee recommends (i) that the University commit to proactively pursuing and deepening its engagements with Black students, faculty, staff and alumni, across all relevant dimensions, in order to help create, sustain and enhance “a sense of belonging” by all of them and (ii) that such pursuit be the guiding ethos for the University in seeking to implement and “live” its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. That ethos should animate all current and future strategies and initiatives of the University, including, without limitation, those identified in Part II.

In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or targeted outcomes, which are presented separately for students, faculty and staff (presented together) and alumni, even though some action steps or outcomes are similar for each group.

Engagement with Students

  1. As a general and overarching matter, the University should be proactive in “thinking outside the historical box” about ways to engage with its Black students in order to cultivate positive and rewarding experiences, recognizing explicitly that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
  2. The University should acknowledge expressly and publicly that increasing, simultaneously, its enrollment, retention and graduation of Black students is a priority because, among other important reasons, a larger number of Black students on campus will facilitate effective engagement with them and the creation of a sense of belonging by them. The University should also state publicly its targeted goals in this area in order to enhance accountability for its performance.
  3. The University should proactively seek funding sources – and otherwise act to eliminate de facto access barriers – to allow low-income Black students to participate in more of the high-value experiences offered by The Furman Advantage, such as the Study Away program and certain impactful internships and research programs that require, as a practical matter, a student to have significant personal financial resources in order to participate in them.
  4. The University should proactively pursue the establishment of mentoring programs that facilitate interactions between Black students, on the one hand, and Black alumni, faculty and staff, on the other hand.
  5. The University should proactively support the installation and maintenance on campus of local chapters of Black Greek letter organizations, including by developing or enhancing ongoing relationships with local or regional graduate chapters of such organizations.

Engagement with Faculty and Staff

  1. As a general and overarching matter, the University should establish (or augment existing) systems and processes that enhance the University’s ability to attract a larger pool of diverse applicants for faculty and staff positions, and the University should state publicly its aspirations and targeted goals for increasing significantly its Black faculty and staff.
  2. Among its strategies and practices, the University should use alternative recruitment measures for Black faculty, such as cluster hiring and targeted opportunity hires, expressly recognizing that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
  3. In furtherance of the foregoing, the University should expect and encourage its academic departments to identify and access social and professional networks of underrepresented doctoral students and faculty members as part of the departments’ recruitment processes, and the University should consider halting a search if the pool of candidates for a position that should reasonably be expected to attract a diverse pool lacks diversity.
  4. The University should procure and offer mentoring and other professional growth and advancement guidance to support its Black faculty and staff, such as an institutional membership in the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.

Engagement with Alumni

  1. As a general matter, the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs – and the Office of Development as a whole, to the extent required for meaningful accountability – should be directed to develop and implement a strategic plan for commencing and continuing constructive engagements with as many of the University’s Black alumni as possible, expressly recognizing that the University’s past practices, for whatever reasons, have not worked well.
  2. In connection with the foregoing, the University should ensure that its database of Black alumni is as complete and accurate as reasonably possible, and the University should establish appropriate systems and procedures for updating the database on an ongoing
    basis.
  3. The University should act promptly to complete the establishment of the Furman Black Alumni Association as an official University-sanctioned and supported affinity association – on par with other affinity associations of the University – under the direct responsibility of a University Vice President who is empowered to coordinate and implement all actions necessary for it.
  4. The President should ensure that the Black Alumni Council is fully operational and engaged, and that the products of its engagement are effectively shared with Black alumni generally.
  5. The University should proactively consider strategies to facilitate increased giving to Furman by its Black alumni. In doing so, the University should encourage thinking outside the historical box and with a long-term perspective that recognizes that the mightiest oak was once a single acorn.
  6. As indicated in Part IV.D, the University should ensure that it conducts and promotes regularly occurring events that are designed to engage and resonate with its Black alumni.

It cannot be overstated that the above actions and outcomes are illustrative, and not exhaustive, of steps the University should consider in seeking to enhance its engagements with its Black students, faculty, staff and alumni. They are the proverbial food for thought with respect to additional actions the University should seek to identify, vet and implement where feasible.

Moreover, some of the Committee’s recommendations and action steps set forth in other portions of this Report will be helpful in engaging with the University’s Black constituency and creating and enhancing a sense of belonging by them.

B. Coordinated and Systemic Communications

The Committee recommends that the University establish, as a top priority, the development and implementation of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy and plan (the “Diversity Communications Plan”) for communicating important information about the University’s commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The Diversity Communications Plan should provide for systematic regular
reports (and interim updates of major developments) on all University-announced initiatives and activities relating to such commitments, using communication mediums that have been specifically determined to be highly likely to reach the maximum number of Furman’s Black constituency that is reasonably possible.
In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends that the University take the following action steps:

  1. Create a prominent section on the Furman website – i.e., no more than one click from the homepage, with a link to it included on the website’s respective pages of each academic department and each administrative area – for providing reports and updates about anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion matters in general, with appropriate prominent subdivisions for certain major initiatives, such as the status of the Strategic Diversity Plan, implementation of major recommendations by the Task Force on Slavery and Justice in its “Seeking Abraham” report, upcoming engagement events or activities for Black alumni, and the like.
  2. Announce and promote conspicuously the schedule for the University’s regular reports on antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion matters.
  3. Disseminate periodic profile or focus pieces that feature Black students, faculty, staff and alumni and, from time to time, local Black community leaders.
  4. Hire a student intern to assist with the foregoing.

C. An Empowered and Accountable Administrative Infrastructure

The Committee recommends that the University (i) adjust and augment its senior administrative infrastructure in a manner that assigns to a University Vice President (the “Prescribed VP”) direct ongoing responsibility and authority for the coordination and implementation of all of the University’s various initiatives in pursuit of its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, (ii) ensure that the Prescribed VP’s staff, budget allocation and other resources are appropriate to enable performance of that responsibility and (iii) provide that the Prescribed VP’s routine performance review and evaluation by the President includes a specific assessment of that performance.

In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, and without limiting its intentionally broad scope, the Committee further recommends that the University take the following action steps (or reflect the following matters as targeted outcomes):

  1. Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s academic affairs function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
  2. Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s enrollment function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
  3. Establish an appropriate nexus between the responsibilities and authority of the Prescribed VP and the University’s communications function in order to ensure proper coordination, collaboration and accountability for performance on the University’s commitments.
  4. The Prescribed VP’s responsibilities should include oversight and direction to, and corresponding accountability for the performance of, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

As discussed in Part III, the Committee believes the University will not able to perform on its laudable conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion unless and until the University’s senior administrative structure reflects the above.

D. Campus Climate and Culture

The Committee recommends that the University undertake, in the spirit that animated its Task Force on Slavery and Justice, a comprehensive research survey and evaluative analysis (the “Culture/Climate Audit”) of the myriad factors that constitute, contribute to or significantly affect or influence the climate and culture at the University for its Black students, faculty, staff and alumni, or that otherwise have significant implications for the development and maintenance of their respective sense of belonging.

In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, and without limiting its intentionally broad scope, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or specific outcomes:

  1. The Culture/Climate Audit should be conducted by an independent, professional consultant or consulting firm who has substantial experience with such engagements for liberal arts institutions that are committed to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
  2. The Culture/Climate Audit should include a review and analysis of all University policies, procedures and practices that have implications for the foregoing primary recommendation, including the matters addressed in sections A, B, C and E of this Part IV.
  3. The engagement for the Culture/Climate Audit should require providing the University with specific recommendations for corrective or improvement actions.
  4. Whether through a specific component of a capital campaign or other fundraising initiatives, the University should act to ensure that the initiatives, programs and other functions of the Center for Inclusive Communities is adequately staffed and funded to perform its mission.
  5. As part of its normal-course orientation regime, the University should institute a “Community Read” program that prescribes strategically-selected books, articles or other materials regarding anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and that forms the basis for a required orientation activity for all newly-enrolled students.
  6. The University’s program for implicit bias and other anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion awareness and training should include modules that require annual participation by all administrative personnel (including the senior administrative team) and all members of the faculty. The President should also consider development of an appropriate module of such awareness and training program for participation by the Board of Trustees on a reasonable periodic basis.
  7. In the spirit of the plan to erect a statue of Joseph Vaughn on campus, the University should consider the prominent display on campus of additional works of art and other artifacts that reflect Black life or culture.
  8. The University should develop, and include as a part of its institutional calendar of important events, multiple events each year that are focused on raising awareness of and appreciation for Black culture and experiences.
  9. Without limiting the foregoing, the University should host periodic public forums (or similarly structured events), at least annually, that feature Black students and/or alumni, and other interested participants as appropriate, to engage in topical discussions about anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion issues or developments. The first such forum (or similar event)
    should be announced promptly for a date in 2021 that is as early as practicable in light of logistical considerations because of COVID-19 protocols.

The members of the Committee, like the authors of the Petition, all recognize and applaud the pioneering work and contributions by Dr. Idella Glenn during her long tenure at Furman in positions that equate to being its de facto first diversity officer. Those early efforts by Dr. Glenn were invaluable to Furman’s Black students at those times, and they understandably occupy a special place in the hearts of numerous Black alumni. The University should take specific note of that important reality as it addresses issues relating to its campus climate and culture, and otherwise proactively pursues meaningful and impactful engagements with its Black alumni.

The Committee also recognizes that the naming of a University facility, program or initiative involves numerous considerations and factors, and the Committee did not seek to reach consensus on the Petition’s request that Furman name a Multicultural Affairs Center for Dr. Glenn to honor her exemplary efforts. The Committee believes the important issues underlying that request can and will be addressed appropriately by the University’s implementation of the “sense of belonging” theme and guiding ethos that the Committee is recommending in this Report.

E. Curriculum and Pedagogy

The Committee recommends that the University state expressly that the ongoing evolution of its curriculum and pedagogical requirements and protocols – including, without limitation, the implementation of The Furman Advantage – will reflect in tangible and impactful ways the University’s commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.

In furtherance of the foregoing recommendation, the Committee further recommends the following action steps or specific outcomes:

  1. As alluded to in the Formal Response, the University should proactively pursue and facilitate development of its Interdisciplinary Minor in African American Diaspora Cultures, with the goal of it qualifying (and being successfully sustained) for major degree status as soon as reasonably practicable, which should include identifying, securing and supporting a qualified and dedicated faculty member to spearhead the necessary efforts for that outcome.
  2. The University should ensure that an appropriate nexus exists between all major components of the University’s academic affairs function and the University’s implementation of its commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, which nexus reflects the indispensable roles performed by participants in the University’s academic affairs function to the University’s ability to perform on its conceptual commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. As being recommended separately in a petition by the Student Diversity Leadership Initiative – which the student members of the Committee brought to its attention – the University should take the steps necessary to establish, as a general education requirement, a course whose subject matter, features diversity, equity and inclusion content perhaps in lieu of one of the two Human Behavior courses currently included in the general education requirements. The University should encourage each academic department to develop a course that is designed to meet this action step.
  4. The University should take the steps necessary for its Cultural Life Program (CLP) to require that all students complete a minimum percentage of CLP requirements with events that have been specifically approved by the President (or the Prescribed VP) as “diversity, equity and inclusion content events”. (The Committee suggests that the minimum be 25 %.)
  5. The University should encourage the faculty to include a “community norms” statement in their respective course syllabi, with the goal of helping to create a more inclusive environment in the classroom (and potentially to reduce class conflicts).

F. Use of Some Quantitative Measures

The Petition stated a specific target of 12% for both the University’s enrollment of Black students and the University’s hiring of Black faculty and staff. The Committee did not seek to reach a consensus on recommending that (or any other) specific percentage as the appropriate target for the University with respect to enrollment of students or the hiring of faculty and staff.
There was consensus within the Committee, however, that the University must be able to assess and report on its progress, or its lack of progress, with respect to those important matters in meaningful ways. The Committee recommends, therefore, that the University develop monitoring and assessment criteria and processes that include some quantitative measures, along with qualitative measures, in order to enable the University to evaluate more effectively the performance by its personnel to whom responsibility for such enrollment and hiring matters has been assigned.

V. Concluding Observations

The Committee’s six primary recommendations and 37 recommended action steps or targeted outcomes are distilled from a much larger collection of suggestions and thoughts from the 14 members (and two ex officio members) of the Committee. The members of the Committee, all of whom love Furman and want the very best for it, were prolific in sharing constructive ideas to help the University as it continues its wide-ranging efforts to be proactive and effective in addressing the imperatives of antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The Committee believes that the distillation reflected in this Report captures fairly those constructive ideas.

As discussed earlier, while the Committee focused intensely on the matters raised in the Petition (and the University’s positions in the Formal Response), the Committee determined to present its recommendations using an organizing construct it believed would be more useful to President Davis and others in the Furman Community with whom she may choose to share this Report. In addition, the concordance in Appendix A provides a convenient way to track the Committee’s recommendations back to the matters raised in the Petition and addressed by the University in the Formal Response.

It cannot be overstated that many of the action steps or targeted outcomes presented in connection with a particular recommendation are relevant for other recommendations and the overarching theme of this Report. This Report should be considered and used as an organic whole.

The Committee’s explicit charge from President Davis related to the University’s Black constituency, and this Report reflects that focus. It is important to note, however, that the Committee recognizes that the full range of anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion issues for the University extend beyond its Black constituency to other minority or diverse groups. Accordingly, while stated primarily in terms denoting Furman’s Black constituency, this Report (and the Committee’s work in general) include consideration of such other groups. Several aspects of this Report may also be applicable to one or more such groups, and no part of this Report should be construed to discount or diminish the importance of inclusion issues for any of them.

The Committee expresses its appreciation to President Davis for the opportunity to consider and provide the Committee’s unfettered input on the important matters raised by the Petition. The other members of the Committee also express their appreciation to Dr. Jennings and Dr. Glenn for their diligent and invaluable service as co-chairs of the Committee.

Appendix A - Concordance
Petition Section (Distillation of Content) Location of Consideration in Committee Report
Section 1 urges the University to engage an independent evaluator to conduct a wide-ranging investigation and audit of campus culture and racial equity practices, which audit extends to all significant aspects of the University’s operations. III – Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives
IV.D – Campus Climate and Culture (principal discussion is in this location)
Section 2 urges the University to establish initiatives that are designed to (a) increase recruitment, enrollment and retention of Black students, with a target of at least 12%, (b) increase programming offerings that promote cultural awareness and (c) provide safe spaces for Black students on campus. IV.A – Proactive Engagements . . . Students
IV.D – Campus Climate and Culture
IV.F – Use of Some Quantitative Measures (principal discussion is in this location)
Section 3 urges the University (a) to strengthen its commitment to hiring more Black faculty and staff, with a target of 12%, (b) to increase its Black tenured faculty and provide more leadership opportunities for Black faculty and (c) to institute the African American and Diaspora Cultures interdisciplinary minor as a full major degree program. IV.A – Proactive Engagements . . . Faculty and Staff
IV.E – Curriculum and Pedagogy
IV.F – Use of Some Quantitative Measures
Section 4 urges the University to establish a Dr. Idella Glenn Multicultural Affairs Center to honor Dr. Glenn’s pioneering and invaluable past service to Furman and its Black students and to create a physical safe space for current and future Black students. III – Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives
IV.A – Proactive Engagements . . . Students
IV.D – Campus Climate and Culture (principal discussion is in this location)
Section 5 urges the University to provide an immediate public update (and ongoing quarterly updates) on its implementation of the recommendations contained in the “Seeking Abraham” report. III – Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives
IV.B – Coordinated and Systemic Communications
Section 6 encourages the University (a) to mandate recurring implicit bias and other racial sensitivity training for all faculty, staff and students and (b) to institute a zero-tolerance policy with respect to substantiated claims of racism and all forms of other discrimination against diverse people. III – Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives
IV.B – Coordinated and Systemic Communications
IV.D – Campus Climate and Culture (principal discussion is in this location)
IV.E – Curriculum and Pedagogy
Section 7 requests that the University facilitate an annual public forum to discuss the needs of Black students and to share (and acquire) information about the University’s work and progress in pursuit of antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion at Furman and in the local community and beyond. III – Overview of Major Themes and Imperatives
IV.A – Proactive Engagements . . . Alumni
IV.C – An Empowered and Accountable Administrative Infrastructure
Appendix B - Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Black Life at Furman
Qwameek Bethea, ‘21
B. A., Philosophy and Politics, International Affairs
Venita Billingslea, ‘81
B. A., Business Administration
Retired, SC Area Work Incentive Coordinator
Social Security Administration
Brian Bratton, ‘05
B. A., Communications Studies
Special Teams Coordinator and Wide Receiver Coach
Allyson Brown
Associate Dean of Admissions
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment
Shaniece Criss, ScD, MPH, MPA
Assistant Professor, Health Sciences
W. Randy Eaddy, ‘76
B. A., Political Science
Harvard Law School, J. D., 1979
Retired Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
Idella Glenn, Ph. D., ‘84, Co-chair
B. S., Computer Science/Mathematics
AVP-Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact
University of Southern Maine
Christina Henderson, ‘08
B.A., Political Science
Council Member-Elect, District of Columbia
Hal Henderson, ‘92
B. A., Political Science
Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation
Head, Business Franchise Operations
Michael Jennings, Ph. D., Co-chair
Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of
Education
Justin King, ‘11
B. A., History and Political Science
Senior Consultant, Milltown Partners
Asha Marie Larson-Baldwin, ‘22
B. A., Advocacy and Justice Studies
Chelsea McKelvey, ‘19
B. A., Spanish and History
National Finance Assistant, Democratic National Committee

Onarae Rice, Ph. D.

Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience
Director of the Neuroscience Program
Ex-officio:
Deborah Allen
Director, Center for inclusive Communities
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee,
Co-chair
Lisa Knight, Ph. D.
Professor of Religion and Asian Studies
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee,
Co-chair

Path outside of the Place of Peace

Next Steps

Furman has started work on the report’s recommendations.

See the next steps

Response to the Black Alumni Petition

President Davis and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Michael Jennings responded to the Petition in a joint statement.

Read the response
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