CLP Thursday: Understanding & Misunderstanding Islam

7 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 29,  Johns Hall 101. Muslim Student Organization presents panel with Dr. Akan Malici et al.

Thursday: Men’s Basketball: vs. ETSU

7 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 29, Timmons Arena. $8-$12.

Thursday: Men’s Lacrosse: vs. Limestone exhibition

7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29, Paladin Stadium.

Charles Townes ’35, beloved scientist, teacher and Nobel Prize winner, dies at 99

Townes2Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Greenville native and a 1935 graduate of Furman University, died Tuesday morning. He was 99 and in failing health.

Arguably Greenville’s most illustrious citizen, Dr. Townes received the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for his pioneering work in the development of the maser and laser.  A book published in 1999 titled “1000 years, 1000 people,” ranked Dr. Townes 819 on a list of the 1,000 most important people of the millennium. The first five were Gutenberg, Columbus, Martin Luther, Galileo and Shakespeare.  Those failing to make the cut included John Kennedy, William Gates and Ronald Reagan.

“The Furman community has lost a giant today,” said Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “Charles Townes’ scientific explorations and path-breaking discoveries changed our world in wondrous ways, and new uses of the technology are unfolding even today. He represented the very best that Furman offers to the world—an individual of rare intelligence and unbounded curiosity, the courage to explore the unknown, the wisdom to serve humankind, an abiding faith that sustained him, and a generosity that has enriched each new generation of students here.”

During a celebrated career that has spanned eight decades Dr. Townes has served on the faculty at Columbia, MIT and the University of California at Berkeley.  He has counseled presidents, was a key NASA advisor during the Apollo mission and holds more than two dozen honorary degrees and a trove of awards and honors.

In spite of his international acclaim and celebrity, Dr. Townes remained true to his Greenville roots and enduring faith. Though Dr. Townes and his longtime wife, Frances, lived in California, they visited the Upstate regularly where he once served as a member of the Furman Board of Trustees. In 2008, Furman University named the Charles H. Townes Science Center, a $62.5 million facility that houses all of the University’s science departments, in his honor.

Charles Hard Townes was born in 1915 and grew up on Sumner Street in a home that was later razed to make room for St. Francis Hospital.  He was the fourth child of Ellen Hard Townes, a homemaker and 1902 graduate of the Greenville Women’s College. Charles’ father, Henry, was an attorney and member of the Furman class of 1897.  The Townes children grew up in a Baptist household that encouraged intellectual pursuits and open-minded discussions of the Bible.

“Charlie” attended public schools and during the summers sometimes operated a small street-side stand where he sold apples and firecrackers to passers-by for a few pennies. He studied physics, mathematics and biology at Furman where he graduated summa cum laude at 19. Outside of the classroom, Townes collected specimens for the university’s biology camp, wrote for the college newspaper and was a member of the swimming team and football band.

After earning a Master of Arts in physics from Duke University in 1936, Townes packed his belongings and bought a bus ticket to Pasadena where he enrolled at the California Institute of Technology and later earned a Ph.D. In 1940 he took a job with Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York and during World War II worked on radar bombing systems that could operate effectively in the severe humidity of the South Pacific.

After World War II he became associate professor of physics at Columbia University and met Arthur L. Schawlow, who became his research assistant. The two would eventually combine their energies (and become brothers-in-law) to make major advances in the field of microwave spectroscopy.

In 1951 Dr. Townes, along with many other physicists, was studying how to use microwave spectroscopy to better examine molecular structure. As part of his research, he chaired a Navy-sponsored committee that encouraged research that might result in the generation of waves shorter than those of current radar systems—a goal that had proven elusive to researchers around the world.

One spring morning before a committee meeting in Washington, D.C., Dr. Townes woke up early and, because the hotel restaurant was not yet open, went outside to greet the day. As he sat on a bench, wrestling with his research questions, a solution popped into his head, and he quickly jotted it down on a piece of paper. His sudden insight led to the development of the first working maser, a device that amplifies electromagnetic waves, and soon thereafter, in collaboration with Schawlow, to the invention of the laser, which amplifies and directs light waves into parallel direct beams. Ultimately, it resulted in an astonishing array of discoveries now in common use in medicine, telecommunications, electronics, computers and many other areas. A statue on Main Street in Greenville marks the moment that Townes was sitting on a park bench in Washington, D.C.

In 1955, Dr. Townes and Schawlow co-authored the influential book Microwave Spectroscopy, and in 1960 they shared a patent for the laser. In 1961, a year after Frank Drake and associates launched the first scientific search for radio transmissions from distant solar systems, Dr. Townes co-authored a paper with R.N. Schwartz in Nature that proposed using the optical spectrum for similar indications.

Dr. Townes received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with two physicists from the Lebedev Institute in Moscow, Aleksander Prokhorov and Nikolai Basov. They were honored for “fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle.”

Dr. Townes has served as provost and professor of physics at MIT, director of the Enrico Fermi International School of Physics, and university professor of physics at the University of California. He holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions (including Furman) and is the recipient of close to 100 honors and awards.

“My greatest debt to Furman is for the opportunity to associate in small classes with a number of interesting, inspiring, devoted men,” Dr. Townes once said. “It was a privilege for me to sit in their classes—particularly those classes that were their special hobbies.”

Dr. Townes is survived by his wife, Frances Hildreth Townes, whom he married in 1941; daughters Holly Townes, Linda Rosenwein, Ellen Townes-Anderson and Carla Kessler; six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


Riley announces 19th class of Upstate DLI fellows

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative has selected its 19th class of fellows from the Upstate.

Forty-five leaders from the Upstate have been selected to participate in the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI). They will join more than 1,400 Riley Fellows from across the state.

Says Don Gordon, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Riley Institute, “DLI and the Riley Fellows have matured into a potent force to help move South Carolina forward. The members of this class will add considerably to the conversations and lasting partnerships that form among Riley Fellows, and it is the strength of these bonds that truly produces progress across the state.”

Class members meet over the course of five months in a format driven by timely, relevant case studies and other experiential learning tools designed to maximize interactions and productive relationships among program participants.

DLI is facilitated by Juan Johnson, an independent consultant and former Coca-Cola Vice President. He says, “DLI is unique among South Carolina’s leadership programs. In addition to the opportunity to develop new relationships and take part in positive action in their communities, participants gain deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients and constituents.”

As part of the program, leaders also work in cross-sector groups to respond to real issues and opportunities in their communities through capstone service projects.

Chosen by nomination and application, participants reflect South Carolina’s demographics and represent corporate, nonprofit, education, faith-based and government sectors. “The frames of reference and skills that DLI graduates share provide a remarkable platform for working together to help South Carolina compete in the 21st century,” says Dr. Gordon.

The Riley Fellows for Upstate Class 19 are:

Jenny Adamson
General Counsel
Johnson Development Associates, Inc.

Carl Anderson
Deputy Chief – Investigations
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office

Pam Barkett
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources
Furman University

Mary Capers Bledsoe
Executive Director, Youth in Government and Teen Services Branch
YMCA of Greenville

Ann Bryan
Financial Advisor (ret.)
Furman University

Lisa Colby
Director of Operations & Initiatives
United Way of Greenville County

Charles Davis
Professor and First Gentleman
Furman University

John Eldridge
Assistant Sheriff
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office

Teri Ficicchy
EVP/Chief Nursing Officer
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Jessica Fisher
Senior Corporate Counsel
Michelin North America

Leslie Gonzales
Assistant Professor of Higher Education/Educational Leadership
Clemson University

Jennifer Gutierrez
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Wofford College

Jane Hall
Spartanburg County Council

Cauiss Holmes
Activity Manager
Michelin North America
Sandy Springs

Roy Janse
Managing Partner
Dehollander & Janse Financial Group

Taylor Jones
Deputy Chief – Emergency Services
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office

John Kimbrell
Executive Vice President
Greenville Chamber of Commerce

Blair Knobel
Editor in Chief
TOWN Magazine/Community Journals

Sonny Ledda
Chief of Police
City of Laurens

George Lesmes
Chief Administrative Officer
GHS Medical Group

Angie Littlejohn
Legal Advisor
Furman University

Brad Love
Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

Heather Love
State Director
Jefferson Awards Foundation

Heather Lyndon
Department Manager
BMW Manufacturing

Carmen Mays
Minority Business Development Coordinator
City of Spartanburg

James McAdams
Disaster Preparedness Specialist
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office

Dana McConnell
Executive Director
Center for Developmental Services

Deidre McEntyre
Program Manager
Urban League of the Upstate

Scott Mercer
Spartanburg School District Two

Stacey Mills
Director of Student Services
USC Upstate Greenville Campus

Kenya Mingo
Director of Marketing & Development
Urban League of the Upstate

Chanell Moore
Deputy Director
Greenville County Parks, Recreation & Tourism

Tom O’Hanlan
Sealevel Systems Inc.

Jennifer Oladipo
Senior Business Writer
Community Journals

Ric Ransom
Senior Administrator
Greenville Memorial Hospital

Monty Rigsby
VP Manufacturing – Industrial Director
Michelin Tire Co.

Chuck Saylors
Vice President; School Board Trustee
M.B. Kahn Construction; Greenville County Schools

John Skipper
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office

James Speed
Allen Temple AMEC

Jim Stewart
Chief of Police
City of Anderson

David Sudduth
Executive Director, Community & Government Affairs
Greenville Health System

Linda Tassie
Executive Director

Leslie Trant
Dean of Corporate & Career Development Division
Greenville Technical College

Johannes Trauth
Vice President, Human Resources
BMW Manufacturing

Alecia Watt
Director of Student Support Services
Greenville Technical College

Learn more about the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative. Or contact Megan Dodgens, Manager of Diversity Leadership Programs at (864) 294-3253, or

Putting words to work


Imagine the scene: Natural light pouring into an open, industrial-modern room, muscular metal beams soothed by aged wood. There are desks, many of them, where English major after English major type away, crafting words for something called a “paycheck.”

They’re productive. Happy. Valued members of society’s workforce.

Welcome to The EnVeritas Group company headquarters in Greenville, which, you may be surprised to learn, is not the backdrop to an unpublished fantasy novel written by one of those sad, unemployed English majors but a real, live business that has become a bit of a go-to destination for Furman degree holders. Laurel Reese ’10, Taylor Davidson ’13, and Lauren Vaughn ’14 have all found a home at EnVeritas working in internet content marketing, an emerging industry that may begin to assuage suffering parents desperately hoping children foolish enough to follow their artistic passion in college come to their senses in time to get into law school.

Reese, an Atlanta native who majored in English and art history, got a job as a writer with EnVeritas four years ago after fellow Furman alums Katie Levans ’07 and Emma Rayner ’08, who had been working for the company as contractors, encouraged her to apply. She has since risen to project manager, where she supervises a team of 11 editors and writers who maintain the content on hundreds of Web sites for five hotel brands.

“Publishing and newspapers, it’s harder to get a job in those industries,” she said. “Content marketing is kind of a forward-moving, progressive industry that’s a good place to be right now, and it’s definitely interesting. It’s exciting to be a part of a company that’s growing along with the industry.”

Like many English majors Davidson grew up dreaming of being a writer, but as graduation day approached job-market reality reared its head. She was alerted to an opening at EnVeritas by Furman English professor Lynne Shackelford, Ph.D.

“I have always wanted to write, since I was a child. I did not go to school thinking I want to write for marketing or I want to write Web site content necessarily, I just went thinking I want to write,” she said. “I was trying to find a job that would let me write in some capacity.”

Which is exactly what she’s doing while also learning valuable digital marketing skills like search engine optimization. The Internet has certainly taken a healthy chuck of traditional publishing jobs, but now it looks like at least some of those positions are being replaced—albeit in a different form—as the Web exposes people to more words than ever before.

“There’s a lot of independence, which I like a lot. You are trusted to get the assignments done the way they need to be done on time, which is good for me,” Davidson says. “We have some journalism and some communications people, but we are an extremely English major-heavy organization. There are a lot of skills that English majors have, and I think businesses are increasingly recognizing they can be really valuable, especially with Web content. There’s a growing recognition you don’t only need people who can crunch numbers; you need people who can write something that’s concise and well-worded and engaging and that people will actually want to read.”

It’s not a coincidence there’s a heavy Furman presence at EnVeritas. The school has built a reputation.

“Furman students bring to the table more than just what I’m hiring them for,” EnVeritas chief operating officer Aubrae Wagner said. “Every Furman student that I’ve hired does their job really well, what I’ve hired them to do, but then they also layer on these other abilities and we kind of sniff out these extra skills as it were.”

Internet content marketing isn’t limited to Greenville, of course. It’s the kind of career that affords people the opportunity to move to a better place, which is what usually happened to Furman grads back in the day. Not anymore.

“I still run into people I graduated with all the time, and I honestly did not think I would stay in Greenville,” Reese said. “A lot of people told me when I graduated if you want to write for a living you’re going to have to move to New York, period. I’m really glad that I ended up back in Greenville. Greenville is growing so much, even since I graduated. It’s a great place to spend your early career.”

“I definitely knew that I wanted to come to Greenville because I feel like there’s a lot to offer here,” Davidson, an Anderson, S.C., native, said. “Not just in terms of more job opportunities, which there were, but the culture and downtown area and the park and the theaters . . . I feel like the culture is becoming more and more vibrant and more and more art-centric, and I really liked that.”

Davidson, who went out of her way to credit Shackelford and Furman English professor Joni Tevis, Ph.D., for recommending her to EnVeritas, isn’t sure where her career path will lead, but she has confidence it will include writing for a living. Even if it wasn’t quite like she planned.

“Right now I’m still like, I have a desk?” she said with a laugh. “I would love to use writing and marketing to work with non-profits or diversity and that type of thing . . . I want to use writing to do something social-justice oriented because that’s something I am really passionate about. I still want to write novels, but no one makes a living writing novels except J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.”

Asked what advice she has for English majors, Wagner says the key is to view your education as a path to a profession.

“I myself was an English major, and I thought that I would never find a job. But it’s a very unique degree I think because it really does prepare you for a lot of things. You just have to find the right niche and think outside the box,” she said. “I would tell them as they’re developing their love of literature and writing just to always be considering the practical ramifications of their degree and what they might do with it. Really get interested in careers and look around, whether it be journalism or digital media or somewhere in the magazine world, even book publishing. Look out and find real-world internships and look for practical experience.”


Learn more about the Furman English Department.

Rethinking classical

 Maggie Stapleton 2014 3A
The only thing older than most of the people tuning in to classical music these days is the music itself.

Classical is the second most popular format on public radio stations, but nearly 71 percent of its listeners are over the age of 55—and 51 percent are over 65. So how in the world are you going to make that hip?

Maggie Stapleton ’08 thinks you start by telling people new—and hip—classical music is being composed every day. Then you give it to them.

That’s the idea behind Second Inversion, an online stream “dedicated to rethinking classical music” Stapleton co-created and manages as part of her job with Seattle’s KING-FM.

“Anyone who has a background in music theory knows that a second-inversion chord is a chord that has been rearranged such that the pitches are in a different order,” Stapleton said. “We thought that was a fun connection on the musical level, but even if you don’t know what a second-inversion musical chord is, second inversion has the spark of being something different.”

And different is important. KING is one of the top five classical stations in the country, but it realizes the future depends on getting younger.

“As you may imagine, the average listener is on the older side. Sixty-five and up makes the vast majority of our audience, and we started thinking a few years ago about how to reach a younger audience,” she said. “We embarked on focus-group research in 2012 to find out what people in their 20s and 30s, especially those who had a pretty strong musical background, wanted, and they wanted to hear more contemporary music. They wanted to hear local performances. They wanted to hear their own voices as DJs or hosts. So we put our heads together to come up with this project.”SI_ULP_01

Stapleton is young, and she knows what she likes. Throw in a deep knowledge of music stemming from a pair of degrees in flute performance—a bachelor’s from Furman and a master’s from Washington—and she represents the ideal demographic. But are there enough of her?

She thinks so.

“We launched our website and our stream in January, and we’ve gotten a great response from local musicians who say ‘oh my gosh, I’m so glad there’s a local voice for this contemporary music now,’” she said. “So far it’s been a really great success.”

The term classical music normally brings to mind thoughts of nineteenth century Europe and names like Beethoven and Brahms. It also has a reputation for being complex and simply inaccessible to untrained ears that have been bombarded since birth with simplistic, four-minute top-40 songs, but Stapleton thinks the masses can be reached if a bridge is built between the two.

“The goal of the programming is much different than what you would hear on KING-FM, really focusing on music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, music that is a little bit edgy, a little bit different. We’re also reaching into the realm of crossing genres to classical music that’s got a little bit of bluegrass influence, things like pop songs being played on piano,” she said, citing string quartet Brooklyn Rider’s recent collaboration with banjo master Béla Fleck and classical pianist Christopher O’Riley’s Radiohead covers as examples. “It’s not something that’s super common, and I think that’s one reason this has gotten so much buzz and excitement, because there is so much energy that’s coming into classical music and music that is being composed and performed and recorded. Those musicians are absolutely thrilled to have a media outlet for it.”

Stapleton grew up in South Carolina and made the bold move to move to the Pacific Northwest upon her graduation magna cum laude from Furman. She “fell in love with Seattle,” which turned out to be a good thing for someone who also loves the arts.

“At first when I was applying for the job I thought, well, gosh, I don’t have any experience in radio. I don’t know how this is going to work out,” Stapleton said. “But it turned out … a big part of the job requirement was having a strong foundation of classical-music knowledge. And the great thing about Seattle is there are tons of performing opportunities as well … I’m very active in my performance life in the evenings and on the weekends.”

That includes playing in two orchestras and a chamber music collective called the Parnassus Project as well as private teaching lessons. It also helps her stay connected to Second Inversion’s mission.

“A big part of the job is working to get musicians heard in various ways and promoted and publicized, and that’s something that has always been really important to me,” Stapleton said. “As a musician I understand that it’s really important to have media support and to get the word out, so it’s been really gratifying to help other musicians in the area.”

Stapleton’s family is still in South Carolina, and she credits Furman with awakening her interest in contemporary classical music.

“Furman had a big influence on shaping me as a musician, so I’m thrilled to be talking about all of this,” she said. “I can trace back some of my earliest experiences with new twentieth and twenty-first century music to playing Jennifer Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” with the Furman Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Joiner. That was my first time playing a piece of music written in the past 15 or 20 years I think, and I realized that there’s so much out there that’s not Brahms and Beethoven.”

Learn more about studying music at Furman and get the latest news on the Furman Music News Facebook page.