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Furman presents awards at Bell Tower Ball

Last updated February 25, 2019

By News administrator

Furman University presented a number of major awards at its annual Bell Tower Ball Saturday, Feb. 23.

The event, which took place at the Greenville Convention Center, celebrated the accomplishments of members of the Furman community. Several alumni, a corporate partner and friends of the university were honored for their professional achievements and for their generosity, service and leadership to the university and community.

Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award
Julie McElrath ’73

Presented in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman University. 

M. Juliana McElrath, M.D., Ph.D., is a senior vice president and member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she directs the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division and holds the Joel Meyers Endowed Chair. She is also a full professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is an infectious disease physician consultant at the UW Medical Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

McElrath is a key scientific leader in the development of a clinically effective HIV vaccine. Her translational research pursues both a vaccine that will protect against HIV infection and a deeper understanding of the components of immunity that contribute to controlling the HIV disease. She established a global laboratory platform to elucidate immunity and protective correlates of an effective HIV vaccine, serving as a framework for pathogen vaccines of public health importance. Related to this effort, she leads two large research consortia funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, she has mentored numerous junior PhD and MD faculty, young investigators and graduate students along their career paths.

Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Arianna McLain Shirk ’02

Recognizes an alumnus who graduated in the past 20 years and who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments or as a volunteer. 

A native of North Carolina, pediatric emergency physician Arianna McLain Shirk now calls Kijabe, Kenya and the AIC Kijabe Hospital home. There, she develops curriculum and serves as a mentor to countless clinicians in an effort to develop and improve pediatric emergency care for the children of Kenya and East Africa. When she moved to Kenya in 2014, as part of Samaritan’s Purse post-residency program, she was one of only two pediatric emergency medicine trained physicians in East Africa. After fulfilling the initial two-year commitment with Samaritan’s Purse, Shirk renewed for a five-year stint.

In addition to her post as head of pediatrics at AIC Kijabe Hospital, Shirk is also on faculty at the University of Nairobi as co-director of the first Pediatric Emergency Medicine/ICU fellowship in East Africa. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Wake Forest University.

Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award
Stanford Jennings ’84

Recognizes an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to Furman or the greater community, advancing the university’s position as a private institution with a public mission. 

Stanford Jennings is the Midwest regional sales manager for New Balance Athletics, Inc. Before launching a career in business, he was a running back in the National Football League. He played with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1984-1990, with the New Orleans Saints in 1991 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992. He is widely known for a historic 93- yard touchdown run as a Bengal in Super Bowl XXIII. After participating in the NFL Player Internship Program in 1992, Jennings joined Reebok International, Ltd. in Cincinnati as a sales representative. He was soon promoted to the sales management team, and in 2000, he became a Southeast regional sales manager with New Balance. He established and operated his own business, sales agency Stanford Jennings, LLC, for several years, and then rejoined New Balance as a member of the corporate sales management team in 2003.

Jennings is currently serving his third term as a member of the Furman University Board of Trustees. He first joined the board in 2002 and served until 2008, followed by another six-year stint from 2010-2016. He generously supports the athletic department and Paladin Club, and he established the Stanford Jennings Football Scholarship to provide scholarship assistance to deserving student-athletes.

University Partnership Award
Prisma Health

Presented to an organization or individual who has worked in conjunction with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.

Prisma Health–Upstate (formerly Greenville Health System) is a private nonprofit academic health care delivery system committed to medical excellence through clinical care, education and research. For decades, Furman students have enjoyed unparalleled access to the organization’s clinical learning environment. In 2013, Furman formally joined the GHS Health Sciences Center as its primary undergraduate partner. In 2016, Furman and GHS launched the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health. Each year, hundreds of students participate in high-impact experiences through these partnerships. Together, both Furman and Prisma Health-Upstate are committed to addressing health disparities in the community through innovative programs like the Medical Legal Partnership and the Master of Science in Community Engaged Medicine.

Ralph Hendricks

Honorary Alumni Award
Ralph Hendricks

Commends individuals who are not Furman graduates but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.

After serving in the United States Air Force during World War II, Ralph Hendricks built a flourishing building supply and hardware business. He emerged as a civic leader and public servant in Simpsonville, where he was the town’s mayor from 1975 to 1987. He served as president of Hendricks Properties, the Carolina Lumber Dealers Association, the Greenville Home Builders Association, the Simpsonville Chamber of Commerce and the Simpsonville Rotary. Hendricks was a trustee emeritus on the Furman University Board of Trustees and was a loyal member of the Richard Furman Society and generous donor to the Paladin Club and athletic department.  In 2000, Furman awarded him an honorary doctor of humanities degree. His generous benefactions to the university include the establishment of the Hendricks-Hillcrest Scholarship and the Ralph S. Hendricks Scholarship, funds that provide critical scholarship assistance to students through the Partners Program.

Kris Kappor

Wayne and Rubye Reid Award
Kris Kapoor ’94

Recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.

Since 2007, Kristopher Kapoor, CFA, has served as the Chief Investment Officer at Furman University, where he is responsible for the investment oversight of the university’s endowment. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Kapoor is dedicated to the career development of Furman students and has served as a mentor for students interested in the financial industry and investments. He advises the investment club, a student organization whose members enjoy the hands-on experience of actively managing $600,000 of the university’s endowment. Additionally, the Investment Office established and hosts an internship program, which has employed an impressive and diverse cadre of aspiring young professionals. Kapoor proudly reports on former students’ career success and growth.

Leighan and David Rinker

Engaged Parent Award
Leighan and David Rinker

Presented to the parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.

Leighan and David Rinker became Furman parents in 1985, and for more than three decades have been tireless champions of the university. They are founding donors of the Partners Program and have been loyal and active members of the Richard Furman Society and Parents Council. They are members of the Benefactors Circle and, along with the Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. Foundation, have provided critical funding and naming gifts for Rinker Hall, the Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education, various endowed scholarships and fellowships, the James B. Duke Library, John E. Johns Hall, and the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection. Their visionary thinking also led to the establishment of the Furman United Scholarship.

For more information, contact Rebecca Bilott, director of annual giving, at 864-294-3489 and

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