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New members begin terms on Board of Trustees

The Furman University Board of Trustees

Last updated January 6, 2023

By Furman News

The Furman University Board of Trustees welcomed several new, returning and emeritus trustees during its Fall 2022 meeting.

The board, which meets three times each year, is responsible for providing governance and oversight of Furman University and for identifying, deliberating and acting upon matters of strategic importance to the university’s well-being and successful achievement of its mission and goals.

Four new trustees have joined the board:


Thomas Cullen ’00

Thomas Cullen ’00, a cum laude graduate of Furman, is a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. He was formerly United States attorney for the same district, during which time he directed the federal response to the “Unite the Right” riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was profiled by the Washington Post Magazine for his prosecution of hate crimes and efforts to increase public awareness of domestic extremism.



Frances Ellison

Frances Ellison, a retired attorney, is the co-founder of Greenville Women Giving, a collective philanthropic organization with more than 500 members. She also currently serves on the boards of Prisma Health and the Institute for Child Success, and previously chaired the boards of the Junior League of Greenville, Christ Church Episcopal School, the Greenville Health Authority, the Greenville Hospital System and the Community Foundation of Greenville.



David Laxer ’87

David Laxer ’87 is president and owner of Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, Florida. He and his wife, Christina, have expanded their family-owned hospitality enterprises throughout Florida and Georgia and founded the Laxer Family Foundation to support local nonprofits. Laxer, who graduated from Furman with a B.A. in business administration, also currently serves on the board of directors of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.



Traci Miller ’89

Traci Miller ’89 is a child and adolescent psychologist who has worked in hospitals, schools and community settings. She is currently in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, and is also a clinical professor of psychology at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Miller and her husband, Mett Miller, are members of the Furman Parent and Family Council and The Hill Institute Leadership Council.




The four new trustees will each serve a three-year term. Each trustee is eligible to be re-elected by the full board for a total of four terms. After serving four terms, a trustee may be elected to return for a lifetime emeritus appointment.

Three board members have joined the ranks of trustees emereti:

David Ellison ’72

David Ellison ’72 is a partner and private wealth advisor with McBee Avenue Wealth Advisors in Greenville, South Carolina, whose years on the Board of Trustees have included service as vice chair and chair. He has also been president of Furman’s Paladin Club and Alumni Association. A director of Southern First Bank, Ellison has also served as a commissioner of the Greenville Housing Authority, board member of the United Way of Greenville County and chair of the Tocqueville Society. A four-year varsity tennis player, he was inducted into the Furman Athletic Hall of Fame and was selected for the Southern Conference 100th anniversary tennis team.


Peace Sullivan

Peace Sullivan, a retired psychoanalyst living in Miami Beach, Florida, has served as a trustee since 2008. The granddaughter and daughter of Furman alumni, Sullivan worked as a journalist for the Associated Press before earning a master’s degree in social work. She continued her studies at the Training Institute for Mental Health in New York, where she became a director, teacher and training supervisor and continues to serve on its Board of Trustees. In 2021, Sullivan made a $1 million donation to the university to support the Mary Peace Endowed Scholarship, named for mother, Mary Peace Sterling, and herself.


James Ney ’64

James Ney ’64, a former secretary of the Board of Trustees, retired in 2020 from the law firm Holt Ney Zatcoff and Wasserman in Atlanta, Georgia, which he helped found in 1984. He was special assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia for three years and special attorney general for the state of Ohio for eight years. He and his wife, Carol Ney, served for six years as co-chairs of the Richard Furman Society and were the 2006 recipients of Furman’s Bell Tower Award. In 2012, the Neys received a Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Conference on behalf of Furman. The Carol and Jim Ney Art Gallery in Cobb County, Georgia, was named to honor their years of service and philanthropy in the area.

In addition, Christina Newsom Byron ’91 and Matt Wilson ’86 have begun their second three-year terms on the Board of Trustees; James A. Lanier Jr. ’79 and Jason Richards ’01 have started their third terms; and Richard Wrenn ’74 has begun his fourth term. They join 21 other trustees who are in the middle of their own three-year terms.

Former Board of Trustees president Ed Good ’67 has rotated off the board.

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Clinton Colmenares
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