A letter from the President

Dear Furman Community,

As Furman University strives to be all we can and should be for our students and the communities they will serve, we must acknowledge that our students’ success will depend in part on their knowing and appreciating the lived experiences of people who come from different backgrounds. This invites them to critically consider their own lived experience and how we operate in solidarity with others toward a just society.

Such understanding starts at home—on the campus our students call home for four years. A foremost benefit of a residential campus like ours is the opportunity it provides for students to practice living, learning, and collaborating with others in an environment that is both challenging and supportive. We do a disservice to all our students, though, if this community does not include a variety of difference. To this end, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty, staff, and student body.

Likewise, we understand that our reach for diversity must come with an active and sustained commitment to inclusion: to developing and enriching an environment of respect and civility in all corners and phases of university life, and to ensuring that every member of the community has the opportunity to feel welcomed, safe, valued, supported, and at home at the university. Just as all our students need to engage difference, it is important that our historically underrepresented students see themselves reflected in the faculty, staff, and student body. It expands our commitment to inclusion and bolsters our message of belonging.

Our Character and Values Statement describes Furman as a “person-centered community, emphasizing the prime worth of persons and encouraging concern for others.” The statement goes on to say that “development of the proper regard for the rights and feelings of others is one of our primary values.” The first sentence is declarative – as if this is the current reality in all circumstances. The second makes clear that “regard for the rights and feelings of others” is something that requires development…that it is ongoing.

I think it is safe to say that we have aspired to these ideals, but we are not there yet. Though we have long articulated such aspirations, and genuinely so, our efforts have not yielded the hoped-for results.

So we embark on new ways to achieve our aspirations. Our vision, The Furman Advantage, articulates the educational benefits of a more diverse and inclusive campus community. Measurement and accountability will force us to reckon with our successes and our failures. The reorganization of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee has already resulted in good work with more to come.

Please continue to visit this website for updates of our efforts to foster a campus community that flourishes because of our differences and a common hope for the learning that results.

Warm regards,
Elizabeth Davis