For alumni and friends
of the university

‘An Opportunity to Help’

By Furman News

Campaign co-chairs Robert Hill ’83 and Margaret Platt Hill ’83 stress the importance of giving back.

Robert and Margaret Platt Hill, co-chairs of Furman University’s $426 million campaign, have remained dedicated to their alma mater. In 2021, the Hills launched an endowment fund for The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Hill Atrium and Hill Courtyard of the Trone Student Center are named in their honor, as is a biogeochemistry lab in the Townes Center for Science. They also support the Partners Scholarship Program and the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection. 

 We asked Robert Hill, a member of the Furman Board of Trustees and retired CEO, and Margaret Platt Hill, former editor with Mercer University Press, to share their plans and hopes for the Clearly Furman campaign. 

  • What is the purpose of the Clearly Furman campaign?

    RH: The campaign’s very broad. One purpose is to make strategic investments to continue to strengthen Furman, which also makes us more competitive. Furman needs to make sure we’re doing the right things to continue to make this a place of prestige and interest. Another purpose is to serve our students – I sometimes call them our customers. There are a lot of support activities that are part of the campaign, but at the top of the list, we’ve got to remember that the students are here for a reason, and we’ve got to have a real service mentality. I think the campaign’s broad focus will help serve our students better than we ever have.

  • What is the dollar figure goal? How did Furman determine it?

    RH: We built the goal from the ground up, broken down between several areas. $426 million is the monetary figure. But the goal is really to get alumni participation, which can be shown in a number of ways. One would be alumni engagement. That goal is to have 65% of alumni engaged in the university in some way, which could be dollars, or it could be going to a play or sporting event. 

    Another goal is number of donors – 22,500 is that goal. It’s getting tough to get alumni everywhere excited about giving. It’s not necessarily the first thing on people’s lists. But I think participation is going to be healthy.

  • How will Furman use the gifts that are raised from the campaign?

    RH: We want to grow our institutes so we can continue to create opportunities. We’ve had a lot of interest in The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s focus on transformation and innovation. I’ve spent a lot of time in business, and a lot of the successful organizations have a real focus on innovation. Furman can do more in this area to develop students, regardless of what their interests might be. They may just enjoy those skillsets, whether they’re doctors or lawyers or teachers. We also want to focus on scholarships and financial aid, so we can continue to make Furman affordable and competitive and get the students we want to get. The campaign will also help us better execute The Furman Advantage through the Pathways Program. Athletics is a big deal. There are hundreds of people who are involved in athletics, but that and other activities require funding. We want to make sure we have good facilities to be competitive and make the university proud. We want to continue building our endowment. And a lot of the activities in the campaign go to support the faculty. I don’t think you can overestimate how important they are in a university. 

  • Why do you – and other alumni – decide to give back to Furman?

    RH: People give back to a place that has given much to them. We have a lot to be grateful to Furman for. We’re grateful for friends, grateful for faculty. We had a good experience at Furman, and we want to pass it on. We want to support the financial health of the university and support new programs. There’s also a sense of opportunity, responsibility and accountability: Is there an opportunity to help? Do we have a responsibility to help? And should we not have some accountability to give back to a place that has given richly to us?

    MPH: I think philanthropy has a directional component. You give back, and you pay it forward. Furman gave so much to both of us. The campaign offers an opportunity to give back to a place that was critical to our development. It also offers us a chance to pay it forward, so future students can benefit as we did.