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Office of Diversity and Inclusion awards nine grants

Bell tower at Furman University

Last updated January 9, 2020

By Tina Underwood

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has selected nine initiatives to receive funding in the form of mini grants. Chosen from among 26 grant applications, the grantees include:

Devon Anker (Advisor, Jewish Student Association, Office of Spiritual Life)
The Jewish Student Association seeks to raise awareness of Jewish diversity, experiences and history through the presentation of a Jewish Week on campus to be held Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 2020. All programs are open to the public and include Holocaust survivor Sami Steigmann, who will deliver a talk entitled “Hope, Faith and the Future;” a panel including diverse Jewish women; an evening of service to honor Max and Trude Heller; and a Shabbat Dinner featuring Jewish music and storytelling.

Kenia Flores (Malone Center for Career Engagement)
Kenia Flores is planning a two-part workshop that targets Furman students and staff who advise students with disabilities. Presented by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the first part of the workshop will focus on the legal rights of prospective employees with disabilities during the job search process. Part two of the workshop, led by ABLE South Carolina, will address how to navigate the accommodation process during the job search and after a candidate has received an offer.

Jenny Par ’21
Jenny Par ’21 is looking to create the first-ever South Carolina Chin New Year Festival in Greenville, South Carolina. The Chin New Year Festival is celebrated by Burma’s Chin ethnic group and includes a three-day festival of sports, cultural dances and music, food, speeches and competitions honoring Chin traditions and culture. As part of the festival, Par is planning a Cultural Life Program (CLP) event focusing on Chin culture.

Tom Baez and Allyson Brathwaite-Gardner (Furman Counseling Center)
Tom Baez and Allyson Brathwaite-Gardner will explore fear of failure with their mini grant. Although fear of failure is a challenge that high-achieving individuals typically face, millennials and Gen-Z appear to suffer intense, and at times life-threatening, distress related to failure. They will address an often-overlooked area of the trend: the impact of stereotype threat and imposter syndrome on fear of failure for students of color. The three-phase project proposes an examination of the issue followed by design and implementation of messaging that counters the additional pressures that students of color may experience with regard to failure.

Erikah Haavie and Michael Svec (Department of Education)
The Department of Education is celebrating its 100th anniversary and is offering a variety of special events and CLPs throughout the year. Joseph Vaughn, Furman’s first African American student, became a high school English teacher, and the first three African American graduate students at Furman were teachers. The proposed CLP event, “Pathways to Education Careers for a Diverse Nation,” will celebrate the department’s diverse history while engaging alumni in discussions about the future challenges for public education. Members of the panel will also have the opportunity to share their journeys with students during an informal social.

Steve O’Neill (Department of History), Deborah Allen (Division of Student Life), Brandon Inabinet (Department of Communication Studies)
Joseph Vaughn Day was recently established by the Furman Board of Trustees to commemorate Furman’s first African American student. The board’s resolution responded to recommendations made by the Slavery and Justice Task Force in its “Seeking Abraham” report. The three applicants for this grant are part of the Joseph Vaughn Day working group charged with a program that includes a gathering on the library steps, a commemorative walk/march to Daniel Chapel, remarks by President Davis, a guest speaker, and a reception in the chapel’s Bryan Garden Room. In addition to the Furman community, members of Vaughn’s family and visitors from the area will be present.

Caroline Davis and Robyn Lee (Student Office for Accessibility Resources)
The Student Office of Accessibility Resources (SOAR) aims to create a mobile sensory break room, where the contents would be available for students to borrow throughout the semester. The room itself would be an enclosed pop-up canopy tent that could be loaned to other offices and departments across campus for larger community events. Multi-sensory rooms are open to all, but their contents are particularly helpful for individuals with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, behavior disorders, ADHD and mental health conditions.

Adi Dubash (Department of Biology) and Kelsey Hample (Department of Economics)
Adi Dubash and Kelsey Hample will lead site visits to two regional institutions, Wake Forest University and Elon University, where LGBTQ inclusion is prioritized to provide Furman faculty and staff on the Diversity & Inclusion LGBTQ Affairs subcommittee with a working model for best practices that support LGBTQ members of the Furman community. Furman LGBTQ Affairs subcommittee members will learn about programs, events, informational activities and celebrations that could help support LGBTQ visibility and inclusion at Furman.

Scott Salzman (Furman Libraries) and Beth Crews (Undergraduate Evening Studies)
Scott Salzman and Beth Crews have proposed funding course registration fees for up to six Furman faculty members to complete the Quality Matters Addressing Accessibility and Usability two-week online course. The course covers universal design for learning, authoring accessible digital content (PDFs, Word documents, forms and video and photo captioning), challenges students may encounter in digital course content and designing digitally navigable courses. Faculty who receive funding and complete the course would commit to providing a summary to be shared with the accessibility committee.

The Diversity and Inclusion committee for issuing grants includes chair Judy Bagley of SOAR and her subcommittee composed of Shaniece Criss, Department of Health Sciences;  Megan Dodgens, The Riley Institute; Courtney Firman, Housing and Residence Life; Joseph Merry, Department of Sociology; and Emily Zeytoonjian ’20, a politics and international affairs and communication studies student.

The next round of grant applications is scheduled for October 2020. Contact Judy Bagley for more information at

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