A look back on a year when we rose to the challenge
Dear Furman Community,
Congratulations on another successful academic year – one of the most challenging any of us has had to face. We took it on together, as a community. It cannot be said enough that the reason we made it this far, and are planning for not one but two in-person Commencement ceremonies, is your tremendous resilience and the care you’ve shown each other.
This is why we’re also looking forward to holding various summer activities on campus, including research, internships, and camps and conferences. And this is why we’ll be able to return to “normal” in the fall, when we plan to have in-person classes and off-campus programs and resume other pre-pandemic activities.
Thank you to the students, faculty and staff who made all of this possible.
As we prepare to finish exams and graduate the class of 2021 and welcome back the class of 2020 for their delayed ceremony, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our year and remind you of a few of our significant accomplishments and milestones for which this community deserves all the credit.
We’re still counting but it looks like this year’s Dins Day, held Tuesday on the last day of classes, will be our best ever in terms of participation. Final numbers will be announced in the coming days, and with the support of over 70 social advocates, the Furman family is on track to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of programs, departments and scholarship funds during the annual 24-hour celebration of Paladin pride and philanthropy. It was great to see all of the student involvement and activity on campus during the day.
Thank you, students, and to everyone else who gives to Furman.
Vision, Mission, Values
In January, the university unveiled its new Vision, Mission and Values statements, and an expanded institutional history, which includes an extended timeline that is more comprehensive and inclusive. A working group – chaired by former Trustee Baxter Wynn and including students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees – drafted the new statements, which focus on who we are, where we want to go, and what defines us as a university and a community.
At the same time, the university announced its Strategic Diversity Plan, which expresses our philosophy around the concept of inclusive excellence while laying out a set of common goals and objectives.
In April, the university unveiled a statue of Joseph Vaughn on the Joseph Vaughn Plaza in front of the Duke Library. The statue was first suggested in the Seeking Abraham report of the Task Force on Slavery and Justice. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff, members of Joseph Vaughn’s family and invited members of the community attended in person and watched online.
Also in April, nearly 2,000 people registered to attend the 13th annual Furman Engaged, a celebration of engaged learning featuring the work of more than 650 students who shared their internships, research, service learning, study away, creative projects and capstone experiences. The event began with the Second Annual Paladin Pitch Competition. All of these immersive student experiences show us what is possible at Furman.
In March, the university received a second $25 million grant from The Duke Endowment to expand and advance The Furman Advantage. The new grant brings The Duke Endowment’s direct total investment in The Furman Advantage to $52.5 million. Among other gifts this past year:
Our student athletes continued their success in the arena and in the classroom. They had a combined 3.24 GPA in the fall semester and 150 student athletes earned Dean’s List honors. Fifteen out of 18 varsity teams received national recognition for their athletics accomplishments.
There were also record-breaking accomplishments in Athletics fundraising with over $8 million in commitments to date this year and over 1,000 individual gifts in support of Athletics programs during Dins Day.
For more on all of the above and the latest updates on Furman, please visit our news page and Athletics site.
Again, I could not be more grateful for the hard work and sacrifice of our entire campus community over the past year. I am so proud of you and all of your accomplishments. Whatever your plans are for the summer and fall, I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you again soon.