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Rinkers’ commitment boosts study away programs

Last updated September 24, 2013

By News administrator

FIVE FURMAN STUDENTS received scholarships this spring to participate in a study away program during May Experience, the university’s three-week semester that bridges the end of the academic year and the start of summer school. The students were the first of many who will participate in travel programs thanks to the generosity of Leighan and David Rinker, who recently made a $1 million commitment to the newly named Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education.

Kailash Khandke, assistant academic dean for study away and international education, says, “We are designating a large part of the funds to support the endowment for study away, and the rest will largely be allotted to need-based scholarships.”

Khandke says that he is working to apply a portion of the gift to study and assess the impact of study away programs on students’ lives. He also would like to develop more travel opportunities for faculty to immerse them globally and cultivate an interest in developing new faculty-led study away programs.

The Rinkers are from Atlantis, Fla., and have been generous Furman supporters for more than 25 years. Leighan Rinker is a current trustee and past chair of the board who holds an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Furman. She and her husband are founding members of the Partners Scholarship program and have been inducted into Benefactors Circle, a society for donors of more than $1 million to the university. They also are past members of the Parents Council, as three of their four children (and two of their children’s spouses) are Furman graduates. The Marshall E. Rinker, Sr., Foundation, which David chairs, provided the naming gift for Marshall E. and Vera Lea Rinker Hall in the Charles H. Townes Center for Science.

Furman’s study away opportunities range from May Experience trips to semester- or year-long programs in the United States and abroad, and the university offers opportunities to travel in 37 countries. Approximately 45 percent of students participate in study away programs during their time at the university.

John Beckford, vice president for academic affairs and dean, says the Rinkers’ gift “will allow even more Furman students to take advantage of our exciting array of study away programs. It will also encourage our faculty to continue exploring possibilities for new travel programs.”

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