2023: The 10 stories that made our year
A look back through the hundreds of articles published on the Furman News site in 2023 reminds us of what a remarkable year it’s been. We’ve shared stories about an ambitious campaign to ensure the university’s future and our continuing dedication to learn from our past. We cheered for the Paladins during some historic seasons and – once again – got props from U.S. News and World Report. Along the way, we took time to pet a friendly 15-year-old dog during a lakeside walk and celebrate a 50-year-old Diamond F logo that has come to represent Furman everywhere.
Take a moment to look back at 10 of our favorite Furman News posts from the past 12 months – the ones that got us talking, thinking, laughing and cheering. They’re all now part of the nearly 200-year-old story of Furman University, as we prepare to add chapters next with experiences and achievements to come in 2024.
When the Furman Paladins downed Virginia for the first upset of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, they raised the university’s profile to stratospheric heights, and suddenly everybody was talking about Furman.
“This is Furman’s moment. This is our moment,” said President Elizabeth Davis. “Our moment to come together, to propel our university into its third century with a clear vision and the resources to meet our enormous potential.”
More than a decade after stepping down in 2010, Furman University President Emeritus David E. Shi ’73 “couldn’t be more pleased” to see the school’s national acclaim for the sustainability education, research and leadership initiatives he helped launch. With a $1 million pledge to The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, he hopes to help preserve that legacy of sustainability for future generations.
Furman University fans and friends have a new way to show their spirit for the university. FU All the Time, a favorite Paladins cheer, is also now a private-label straight bourbon whiskey.
Furman University again ranked among the best universities in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, which ranked the university 46th overall among more than 200 national liberal arts colleges and universities. In 2023, Furman jumped 12 spots to 20th in the best “First Year Experiences” category. A notable experience for first-year and sophomore students at Furman is the Pathways Program, a series of four one-credit classes led by faculty advisors and peer mentors that builds a foundation of self-awareness and professional skills.
“I think the crows are saying, ‘This is a great event. Everybody come and look and see what they’re doing,’” said Cherokee storyteller Kathi Littlejohn during a ceremony in November 2023, as birds cawed overhead. She stood next to a new marker stating that Furman University occupies traditional land of the Cherokee people.
In a way, counseling services at the Trone Center for Mental Fitness begin as soon as you walk through the door. Before you even see a counselor, you can feel the calming effects of the newly renovated space. Made possible by a $10 million gift from David ’77 and June Trone supporting Clearly Furman’s wellness, belonging and community priority, the renovation was part of an overall expansion programs, education and support for student wellbeing.
In November, the Paladins met Virginia Military Institute on the gridiron and came away with a 37-3 victory and their first outright SoCon championship since 1990.
For the price of a tank of gas and a few hamburgers, Dennis Zeiger ’74 created an icon that has been familiar to Furman fans for five decades.
At 15, she is regal, part stately golden retriever, part squat, howling Basset hound. When students walk by, Riley sits, then lolls on her side, and performs a dual role she’s become famous for: giving, and receiving, endless amounts of love. She has visited Furman nearly every day for 10 years with her humans, and her furry face is beloved by thousands of Dins, past and present. In 2023, Riley took over social media too, with her story reaching nearly 100,000 people on Facebook and Instagram.