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Furman celebrates award recipients at 2024 Bell Tower Ball

The Bell Tower Ball was held at the Greenville Convention Center Saturday, February 17, 2024.

Last updated February 19, 2024

By Furman News

Furman University presented a number of major awards at its annual Bell Tower Ball Saturday, Feb. 17.

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

Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award

James “Jim” Ney ’64
2024 Award Recipient

The Blackwell Award recognizes an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to Furman University or the greater community, advancing Furman’s position as a private institution with a public mission.

white man wearing glasses and dark suite

Jim (James) Ney ’64.

In 1984, Ney co-founded Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman LLP where he practiced until his retirement in 2020. Ney began his career as law assistant of the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 1968, he joined Alston & Bird and was later a special assistant attorney general of the State of Georgia and a special attorney general for the State of Ohio. He was selected for all editions of the “Best Lawyers in America,” 1983-2018.

Ney has served on several Atlanta-area boards and in 1995 he received the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce award for “Outstanding Community Service.”  Through the support of Ney and his wife Carol Nichols Ney ’67, the Cobb County Library Foundation offers the Jim and Carol Ney Literary Award in honor of extraordinary books and exceptional authors. The Carol and Jim Ney Art Gallery, in Cobb County, recognizes the couple’s service and philanthropy.

In 2022, Ney joined the Furman Trustee Emeriti after years of service. Ney has also served on the Alumni Board, Annual Giving Council and the Campaign Executive Committee. He and Carol served as co-chairs of the Richard Furman Society and in 2006 received the Bell Tower Award. In 2011-2012 they received the Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Conference. Ney is a longtime member of the Order of the Paladin. He and Carol are members of the Benefactor’s Circle and the Legacy Society and enduring supporters of numerous athletic funds, the Partners Scholarship Program, Bryan Center for Military Science, James B. Duke Library, Mock Trial and the Furman Standard.

Ney earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Furman in 1964. He was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Paladin football team. He received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1966.

He and Carol have six grandchildren and three daughters – Lynn Smith ’84, Karen Tracy ’88 and Arden Brewer (Salem College ’94).

Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Keenan Adams ’05
2024 Award Recipient

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

Black man with beard wearing cap

Keenan Adams ’05.

As a wildlife and ecological biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, Keenan Adams has directly impacted sustainability and wildlife management practices across the world. Adams has served as forest supervisor of the El Yunque Forest in Puerto Rico since 2019. He is the first African American to hold the position. He is responsible for some of the nation’s most biodiverse federal lands, including the Forest Service’s only tropical rain forest. Adams works at the “intersection of conservation and community” and encourages the tourism industry to be thoughtful about goals and practices that promote sustainability and reduce the impacts of climate change.

In 2018, Adams helped lead recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. He previously served as the biological resources division chief in Colorado for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was field lead for the U.S. Department of the Interior for hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

Adams is on the board of directors of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and Fundación Amigos de El Yunque. He also advises young professionals and encourages them to adopt a healthy work-life balance. He was named to the 2021 Caribbean Business “Top 40 under 40” for his contribution to El Yunque’s recovery, his community and the tourism economy. In 2016 he was chosen among the “Roaring 10” young Clemson University alumni who have made an impact in business, leadership and community.

A member of the Paladin football team, Adams received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2005. He received a master’s in forest resources in 2007 and a Ph.D. in wildlife biology in 2010 from Clemson University. Adams was born on a military base in Germany but calls South Carolina home.

Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award

Angela Walker Franklin ’81
2024 Award Recipient

The Kohrt Award is presented in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman University.

a Black man and a Black woman holding crystal award on stage

Angela Walker Franklin ’81 (right) receives award from Jamarcus Gaston at the 2024 Bell Tower Awards.

Franklin, who became Des Moines University’s 15th president in 2011, has worked in higher education for more than 35 years at institutions including Meharry Medical College in Nashville and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. In December 2018, she launched Purple and Proud, a $25 million fundraising campaign whose goal was surpassed a year later.

Franklin serves on the boards of UnityPoint Health, Bankers Trust, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Harkin National Advisory Council. She chairs the Assembly of Presidents of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and will soon serve on the Adaptive Work Group Addressing Racism in Healthcare and the George Washington Carver Statuary Hall Project.

In May 2022, Franklin received the AACOM’s Dale S. Dodson Award, recognizing her contributions to the advancement and support of osteopathic medical education. She was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame and received the 2017 American Psychological Association Training Advisory Committee Special Award, the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, and the 2014 Women of Influence Award from the Des Moines Business Record.

Franklin is author of the memoir “An Unconventional Journey… An Unlikely Choice,” which recounts her path to the college presidency. She speaks on topics such as women leaders, transformative leadership and building a culturally competent and diverse workforce.

Franklin graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1981. She was a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, member of the band and was active in Heller Service Corps. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Emory University.

She is a former Furman trustee and served on the Alumni Board and Parent and Family Council. She and her husband Thad are parents to Wes ’07 and Grant (Drake University).

Wayne and Rubye Reid Alumni Career Services Award

Foster Victor Wealth Advisors: Paul Foster ’02, Kylie Felker ’09 and Rob Victor ’09
2024 Award Recipients

The Reid Award is named in honor of Wayne ’68 and Rubye Reid and recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.

a white woman flanked by two white men

From left: Paul Foster ’02, Kylie Felker ’09 and Rob Victor ’09.

Foster Victor Wealth Advisors is a premier, full-service financial planning firm based in Greenville. Clients receive concierge advisory and planning services. By focusing on clients’ diverse financial strategies and life plans, the company provides a coordinated, efficient and effective path to financial security. Furman honors three individuals from the firm.

Paul Foster ’02

In 2016, Foster and Furman alumnus Rob Victor established the firm after working together at Northwestern Mutual. Among other certifications, he has achieved the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor designation.

An active member of the Greenville community, Foster volunteers for the USC School of Medicine, Family Enterprise Institute and Furman. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization. As a former member of Furman men’s basketball team, Foster is involved in mentoring the team. He previously served on the former Paladin Club Board and has volunteered with The Hill Institute’s thought leadership forum, Advantage Greenville. He serves on the advisory board for UCBI and the Circle of Excellence Board for the Reserve at Lake Keowee.

Foster received a bachelor’s degree in history in 2002. He and his wife Reagin have five children – Kendall, Collyn, Luke, Brooks and Ellie.

Kylie (Kotowski) Felker ’09

Felker, president of Foster Victor since 2022, leads the strategic direction of the firm and is chief compliance officer, shaping policies and procedures to reflect the financial industry’s regulatory requirements. She was awarded the Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional designation by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2017.

Felker was named a “Best and Brightest Under 35” by Greenville Business Magazine in 2014 and was recognized by Women We Admire as one of The Top 50 Women Leaders of South Carolina for 2023. She has volunteered with numerous boards, including the Greenville Local Development Corporation, The Mujer Project, Hands on Greenville, Blue Tent (formerly Camp Opportunity) and Emrys board. Felker has served on the Young Alumni Council and is a mentor for the Pathways Program.

Felker received a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2009 and was a member of Kappa Delta. She received an executive MBA from the University of North Carolina in 2022. She and her husband Justin have one son, Aidan.

Rob Victor ’09

Rob Victor is principal at Foster Victor.

Victor serves on the Leadership Council of The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Furman. He is a young benefactor for the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and his firm supports a yearly scholarship for a graduating senior to continue their education in the arts. As a former Furman men’s soccer player, Victor works with the team as a mentor. He previously served on the Bon Secours St. Francis Foundation Board and the boards of the Greenville Football Club and the Paladin Club, now known as the Paladin Scholarship Fund.

Victor received a Bachelor of Arts in accounting in 2009. In addition to men’s soccer, he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. He and his wife Carley are parents to Cole and Claire.

University Partnership Award

LiveWell Greenville
2024 Recipient

The University Partnership Award honors an individual or organization who has worked with Furman to contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.

logo in shades of blue and green

LiveWell Greenville receives University Partnership Award.

LiveWell Greenville is a coalition of more than 250 partner organizations focused on policy, systems and environment changes aimed at ensuring all Greenville County residents have equitable access to healthy food and active living opportunities. An example of their mission in action is the Greenville County Food Insecurity Index, a collaboration between The Institute for the Advancement of Community Health and The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities. IACH also co-wrote, supported implementation of and evaluated the impact of the BUILD Health Challenge project, which seeks to reduce racial disparities in youth obesity along the White Horse Road corridor.

Melissa Fair, director of community action for IACH, serves on the steering committee and oversees research and evaluation for the initiative. Shaniece Criss, assistant professor of health sciences, leads the qualitative component of the study.

With a $5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program, IACH will help evaluate LiveWell Greenville’s impact on improving healthy food access and physical activity opportunities in communities of color. The Urban League of the Upstate, Hispanic Alliance, Bon Secours St. Francis, Unity Health on Main and Just Say Something are among the participating organizations.

LiveWell Greenville has long provided internships and research fellowships for Furman students. Furman alumni have served as volunteers and staff members with LiveWell Greenville and its partner organizations.

Engaged Parent Award

Carolyn Holcomb
2024 Award Recipient

The Engaged Parent Award is presented to the parent or parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation of their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.

white woman with blond hair wearing black top

Carolyn Holcomb.

Holcomb, a partner with PwC, helps U.S. and global clients manage risk, specializing in privacy, cybersecurity, information technology and data governance. She has also helped numerous organizations implement the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation and other regulations.

She served on the board of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for many years, was a Girl Scout troop leader for 11 years and frequently volunteers with Rise Against Hunger, packaging meals. She is an active volunteer with the Clearly Furman National Campaign Committee, Parent and Family Council and the Department of Business and Accounting.

In 2012, Women in Technology honored Holcomb as the Woman of the Year in Technology among Large Enterprises in Georgia to celebrate the accomplishments of women executives who are leaders and visionaries in both business and community. She is a frequent guest on shows including “Inside America’s Boardrooms,” and is often quoted in media outlets such as Reuters TV,, Compliance Week and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Holcomb holds a bachelor’s degree in math from Bucknell University and an MBA from Georgia Tech.

Holcomb and her husband Zach have two children, Sarah ’25 and Alex.

Honorary Alumni Award

Minor Mickel Shaw
2024 Award Recipient

two white women on stage in award ceremony

Minor Mickel Shaw (right) receives award from President Elizabeth Davis at the 2024 Bell Tower Ball.

The Honorary Alumni Award commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman University but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.

One of Greenville County’s most distinguished business and civic leaders, Shaw is president of the private investment company Micco LLC, chair of The Daniel-Mickel Foundation and is a trustee of The Duke Endowment and the Hollingsworth Funds.

Shaw has amassed numerous awards recognizing her involvement in civic, educational, philanthropic and business activities. They include the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor; the David Wilkins Citizenship Award from The Riley Institute; the Chairman’s Award and the Athena Award from the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. She received the 2022 Council of Independent Colleges’ Charles W.L. Foreman Award and the Whitney Young Humanitarian Award from the Urban League of the Upstate. She is a laureate of the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

Shaw has chaired the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport Commission and served as a board member of the foundation and corporate boards of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the International African American Museum. She has served on the boards of the Belle Baruch Foundation, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the Duke Energy Advisory Board and the Palmetto Institute. She was also co-chair of the Southeastern US/Japan Association from 2016-18 and helped found CommunityWorks Carolina. She served as chair of The Duke Endowment Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2022.

She was a founder of the Roper Mountain Science Center and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She is a trusted advisor and tireless advocate for Furman University including her work with The Riley Institute and as founding member and national chair of FurmanWIN.

Shaw is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a recipient of honorary degrees from Wofford College, Furman University, Clemson University and Frances Marion University. She and her husband, Harold Ellis Shaw Jr., have 10 grandchildren and three children – Katie Shaw Howell ’99, Anne Carter Shaw Lowrance and Harold E. Shaw III.

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