August 18, 2020

Welcome and Thank You

Dear Furman Community,

We recognize how challenging the past several months have been and are grateful to gather once again for the beginning of a new academic year. Usually, we mark this occasion by coming together for a Convocation ceremony. The event officially welcomes new members of the Furman Family and those of us returning to the campus we love. It also sets a tone for the new academic year, one of unity, collaboration and collegiality.

In this extraordinary year, we will forego the in-person celebration out of an abundance of caution, but let there be no doubt that being unified, collaborative and collegial is more important than ever. Whether you are already on campus, if you’re coming to campus later this semester, or if you’ll be studying or working from home, welcome back to the Furman experience.

To our sophomores and juniors who will join us in September, I send a special thank you. We know you are eager to return to campus as soon as possible, and we share that desire. Please know that the phased return gives us the best chance for a safe and healthy fall semester, and we look forward to your arrival on campus.

A core value, and indeed a strength of Furman, is that we care for each other. This is why we consider safety precautions, such as wearing a face covering, not as sacrifices but as opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to each other. If you have not reviewed and agreed to the Paladin Promise, please do so now. Also, make sure you have downloaded the LiveSafe app for daily check-ins (available for Apple and Android, or accessed by employees through MyFurman or Workday).

While we can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by the virus, following health, safety and physical distancing practices will reduce this risk significantly, and give us the best chance to finish the semester mostly in person.

The Furman Community is bonded by a calling greater than any virus: the pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to make the world a better place. While the pandemic is testing our patience, it is also fortifying our determination to address the significant challenges facing the world. To our students, please know that your faculty and staff, our centers and institutes, and our alumni network are here to help you discover how your talents, passions and hard work can help address the important issues of our time. I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and related activities. These are not the only difficult times you will face in life. Harness your resilience and your empathy to take on this challenge and grow from it.

Who knows? You could be the educator who inspires discovery, the scientist who creates the vaccine for the next pandemic, or the entrepreneur who develops a cost-effective and efficient delivery system. How you react to this moment may inform your academic pathway and your life’s journey after you leave Furman.

We are all in this together

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, an economic downturn and social unrest across our nation, all converging in a way we have never experienced. All of us are dealing with a level of uncertainty that is stretching our intellectual and emotional capacities.

The staff at the Counseling Center, Office of Spiritual Life and Earle Student Health Center stand ready to offer assistance to students no matter your physical location. And I encourage any employees who need help to reach out to Human Resources or your health care provider, as appropriate.

We will continue to update the Furman Focused website throughout the semester. Please check that site and your email regularly for the latest information.

I’m confident in our plans for the semester in large part because of the tremendous amount of work and thought that the Fall Planning Team, including its working groups, has put into developing protocols and preparing our campus for a successful and safe semester. Thank you to the many faculty and staff who served in this capacity and the many others who have worked tirelessly to get us ready. Thank you, too, to the many students who served on planning subcommittees and who provided important perspectives and feedback throughout the planning process.

I am confident in each and every member of our community and that we will all do our part to protect our collective health and safety. Furman is a special place because of you and our unity, collaboration and collegiality. I am so very grateful to all of our students, faculty and staff who continue to show creativity, flexibility and grace as we take on this challenge together.

Be well and be safe.

Warmly,
Elizabeth Davis

President