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President Davis Receives Contract Extension through 2030

President Elizabeth Davis speaks during Opening Convocation at McAlister Auditorium on August 21, 2023.

Last updated March 6, 2024

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

Citing leadership accomplishments over a 10-year tenure, the Furman University Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for President Elizabeth Davis through 2030, with an option to add two more years, the university announced today. With the extension through 2030, Davis would become only the seventh president to serve Furman 15 years or more.

“Under President Davis’s leadership and direction, Furman has reached new heights of excellence,” said Board Chair Kevin Byrne. “From her dedication to innovative learning to her commitment to free expression and civil discourse, Elizabeth has transformed Furman’s campus and set the standard for other top liberal arts colleges to follow. The Board is unanimously confident in her ability to provide Furman with exceptional executive leadership at a time when it is needed most in higher education.”

Davis became Furman’s 12th president in 2014. Under her leadership, the university has instituted The Furman Advantage, a distinctive vision for higher education that combines learning with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers and community benefit. The groundbreaking effort, which was launched in 2016, has received more than $78.9 million in support from The Duke Endowment, including a Centennial grant from the foundation this year.

“For the past 100 years, The Duke Endowment has worked alongside Furman to support its institutional priorities and its leaders,” said Charlie Lucas, board chair of The Duke Endowment. “We are grateful for our strong partnership with President Davis, and we appreciate her highly effective leadership over the course of her tenure. We are excited to learn of the Board’s recent decision to extend her contract and look forward to continuing our work with her in the coming years to support innovative initiatives and programs like The Furman Advantage that make Furman a vibrant and compelling place for students, faculty and staff.”

“Furman and President Davis have been outstanding partners in advancing our vision to foster a vibrant, just and inclusive Greenville,” said Gage Weekes, President and CEO of Hollingsworth Funds. “We are excited to continue working hand-in-hand with Elizabeth to support her vision for learning and service and our shared goal of creating equitable opportunities for all to advance and thrive in our community.”

“I am deeply grateful for the continued trust and support of the Furman Board of Trustees,” said President Davis. “It is an honor to lead Furman, and I am excited about the opportunity to continue serving this remarkable institution for many years to come.”

During Davis’ tenure, Furman also launched the Pathways Program, a dedicated two-year advising course undergirding The Furman Advantage that prepares students for college and ensures they take full advantage of all that Furman offers.

This past April, Furman publicly launched Clearly Furman, the most ambitious campaign in the university’s history. To date, the campaign has raised more than $392 million toward a goal of $426 million by 2026, Furman’s bicentennial. This April the university will break ground on a donor-funded $40 million renovation of Timmons Arena, the largest capital project in the campaign.

Since Davis arrived, Furman has moved from outside the top 50 to as high as No. 45 in the U.S. News & World Report best colleges rankings. Following the launch of The Furman Advantage, the university was voted a “Most Innovative School” among National Liberal Arts Colleges six years in a row. This year, peers ranked Pathways among the top 20 “Best First-Year Experiences” among all universities.

Recently, Davis launched On Discourse to promote free, open, healthy and constructive dialogue on campus. The initiative aims to teach students and others how to engage people with differing ideas, to look for common ground, and to understand that disagreement is not disapproval. This commitment was reiterated in the university’s Statement on Freedom of Inquiry and Expression, which was endorsed by the faculty and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in February.

Davis has spoken throughout the U.S. on issues involving higher education, university leadership and financial management. She has been quoted in national media, written op-eds for a number of publications, and done many interviews on radio and television on the subject of higher education.

Before coming to Furman, Davis spent 22 years at Baylor University in Texas, where she last held the position of executive vice president and provost. In addition to being a member of the accounting faculty at Baylor, she also served as Vice Provost for Financial and Academic Administration, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Business Programs, and Acting Chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law.

Davis received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baylor and earned her Ph.D. from Duke University. She and her husband, Charles, have two adult children, Chad and Claire, who graduated from Furman in 2019.

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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy