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Making their mark

Nearly five decades ago, two black elementary school teachers and a guidance counselor enrolled in the evening graduate studies program at Furman University.

Their registration made headlines, as Furman was the first all-white private institution in South Carolina to admit black students.

One of those graduate students, the Rev. Joseph Adair, went onto become an education professor at Clemson University where he remained for nearly two decades. Another, William Bowling, on his 90th birthday, was named a Master Teacher by the School District of Greenville County for his lifelong contributions to the children of Greenville.

A new exhibit in the Hipp Hall Gallery gives a glimpse into the lives of Adair, Bowling and other stars of Furman University’s teacher education program. An opening reception for the retrospective, “95 Years of Preparing Scholars and Leaders,” will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 in the Hipp Hall lobby to honor educators featured in the exhibit and their families.

The retrospective starts with the program’s humble beginnings in 1919 with a single professor of education, Dr. Leuco Gunter. Under the leadership of Furman President Bennett E. Geer, the teacher education program gained national attention in the 1930s with the “Project of Community Development,” a partnership between Furman, Greenville County schools and numerous government agencies. It continues through the decades to showcase Furman’s present-day program and profiles 19 Furman alumni and graduate students who have been named 2013-2014 district or school Teachers of the Year.

“Furman’s Education Department has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of numerous teachers and students in the Upstate,” said Erikah Haavie, who researched and coordinated the exhibit. “We wanted to honor the work so many have done for Furman’s teacher education program and recognize the many educators who continue to give their best each day in the classroom.”

The exhibit is on display from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and is open to the public. For more information, contact Erikah Haavie in the Education Department at (864) 294-3083 or

Last updated March 31, 2014
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director