The man behind Furman’s track resurgence

chris-borch-runningChris Borch, a 1978 Furman graduate, earned a spot on the Paladin cross country team as a walk-on in 1974. It was tradition back then for each runner to receive a pair of blue Onitsuka Tiger running shoes upon making the team. The symbolic gesture resonated with Borch, a successful businessman who created the Blue Shoes scholarship program at the university in 2005. The Blue Shoes initiative has brought new life to Furman track and cross country, not only through scholarships and facility improvements but through the excitement of new running events and world class athletes coming to Greenville.  Borch was featured in Runner’s World magazine.

Dr. Blumenfield receives Fulbright to study in China

Tami Blumenfield, an assistant professor of Asian Studies at Furman University, has been selected for a Fulbright Scholar Grant to conduct research in China during the 2015-16 academic year.

Dr. Tami Blumenfield

Dr. Tami Blumenfield

Blumenfield will work with the Na communities of the Yunnan Province, where she’ll create a multi-media exhibit and digital archive to help preserve the cultural heritage of the Na people.  She will also collaborate with the Yunnan University Institute for Ethnic Studies.

“This project will emphasize sharing perspectives, involving both creation and commentary by different groups of people from Na communities around Yunnan Province,” Blumenfield said.  “The archive will be designed to serve as a resource to the Na people, with materials in their Naru language as well as in Chinese.”

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946, is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Blumenfield is the James B. Duke Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at Furman, where she teaches courses on the Anthropology of China, Cultural Anthropology, Gender, and Media. She is also affiliated with the Anthropology Program, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, the Film Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, and the Shi Center for Sustainability.

Blumenfield is a founding board member and vice-president of the Cool Mountain Education Fund, a community sustainability initiative in China.  She is a graduate of Oberlin College, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington.

For more information, visit the Fulbright Program website or call Furman’s News and Media Relations Office at 864-294-3107.

Book by professor Kolb wins top award

A recently published book by Furman University sociology professor Kenneth H. Kolb has received a major award from the American Sociological Association.

Dr. Ken Kolb

Dr. Ken Kolb

Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling has been honored with the organization’s 2015 Outstanding Recent Contribution in Social Psychology Award.  The book was published by the University of California Press in the fall of 2014.

In Moral Wages, Kolb describes what it’s like to work inside an agency that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Based on more than a year of fieldwork, the book focuses not on the victims or perpetrators of abuse but on the service providers in the middle.

Kolb writes that while victim advocates and counselors don’t ordinarily enjoy extrinsic benefits like pay, power and prestige, they earn a special type of emotional reward reserved for those who help others in need: moral wages. But it is also clear that their jobs often put them in impossible situations and provide few tools to combat a persistent social problem.

Dr. Kolb joined the Furman faculty in 2008. His current research project addresses how residents of “food desert” communities in Southernside and West Greenville obtain fresh fruits and vegetables. He is a graduate of Bates College, and holds master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The American Sociological Association (ASA) is a non-profit membership association dedicated to advancing sociology as a scientific discipline and profession serving the public good.

For more information, visit the University of California Press website or contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Justice, equity, and politics

Coleman Allums, sized, by Jordan Allums, Class of 2018

Photo of Coleman Allums, ’14 provided by Jordan Allums, ’18

Coleman Allums ’14 was set to prepare his third and final go-around for a highly competitive NSF Graduate Research Fellowship when he learned he won an award in recent weeks. “I knew how competitive this source of funding is and how few are awarded in my field, so my expectations were modest,” says the Sustainability Science/Economics graduate and Atlanta area native.

Allums scored one of only 15 fellowships granted in Geography nationwide. Across all disciplines, a mere 2,000 of the 16,500 total applicants for this cycle were awarded Fellowships, which means 88 percent of applicants didn’t get the good news.

Allums, who this fall is headed to the University of Georgia to work on his master’s, says he’ll study questions of justice and equity as they relate to geography. “Atlanta has an extensive racial history and much of the urban landscape is still highly segregated. As new cities continue to form in the metro area, there are questions we need to ask about who is included and excluded, and what the underlying reasons are for the formation of new municipalities. I want to understand how politics intersects with everyday life and with the history of the city and its suburbs,” says Allums.

His plan is to reserve the NSF funds for the Ph.D. program he’ll undertake after finishing his master’s. Allums says the flexibility of NSF GRFs is one of the perks, funding the researcher, not the topic. And speaking of funding, the grant is valued at nearly $140,000 over the five-year life of the Fellowship.

Allums says he owes his time at Furman and relationships built there for his success. “ . . . The research experience I was able to gain as an undergraduate was incredibly valuable—assisting numerous Sustainability Science and EES faculty with existing projects, developing my own research agenda, presenting at numerous conferences, working on multiple publications. My personal relationships with faculty, which were so important to me on a daily basis, translated to strong recommendations from instructors in diverse disciplines. ”

Since he won the award, Allums is still pinching himself. “When I saw my name on this year’s Fellows list, I was shocked. I still have to re-read my acceptance letter occasionally just to make sure I didn’t dream it.” he says.

Learn more about the the Furman Economics Department or the Sustainability Science major.

Rhim is on a roll

brendan-rhim-smaller-stillThe road to cycling success may seem an uphill climb, but Furman student Brendan Rhim has been riding lately as if cruising a downhill slope. The 19-year-old New Hampshire native recently helped the Furman cycling team do something no other school had ever done at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships.  The Paladins claimed the Division II national title, using Rhim’s road race and criterium victories and his role in a team time trial win to become the first collegiate squad to sweep all three disciplines in one championship. Read more in the Valley (N.H.) News.

Home game for Matt Davidson

davidson-smallWhen a married couple includes a husband who plays golf for a living, oftentimes the husband’s job dictates where the wife goes. But in the case of Matt Davidson ’04, who plays on the Tour, and Natalie The ’03, who teaches Health Sciences at Furman, it’s the opposite. As Natalie was making her way up in the world of academia, Matt went with her. The two met as students at Furman, where Natalie played tennis and majored in Health and Exercise Science, and Matt played golf and majored in Political Science.  Davidson was featured in an article on on the eve of the BMW Charity Pro-Am, a event held in Greenville May 14-17.

Trustees approve faculty promotions, tenure

faculty-smallerDuring its spring meeting Saturday, the Furman University Board of Trustees approved promotions and/or tenure for 12 faculty members and granted emeritus status to six professors who are retiring this summer.

The trustees also recognized the contributions of four board members whose terms will expire June 30.

Faculty members promoted to the rank of full Professor were Kevin R. Hutson (Mathematics), Michael T. Svec (Education) and Paul L. Thomas II (Education).

Omar Carmenates (Music) was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Those receiving tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor were Eiho Baba (Philosophy and Asian Studies), Randall L. Childree (Classics), David J. Fleming (Political Science), Jessica Hennessey (Economics), Brandon M. Inabinet (Communication Studies), Kyle C. Longest (Sociology), Marion E. McHugh III (Business and Accounting) and Jeanine P. Stratton (Business and Accounting).

The board granted emeritus status to six retiring professors—Gilbert B. Allen (English), William D. Blaker (Biology), Robert C. Chesebro (Music), Lesley A. Quast (Education), Wade H. Sherard III (Mathematics) and Marie A. Watkins (Art).

All promotions, tenure and emeritus status become effective Aug. 1.

The board recognized four trustees whose terms will expire June 30.  They are Christopher W. Collins of Manchester, Mass., David L. Hauser of Cramerton, N.C., Carl F. Kohrt of Salem and Steven S. Reinemund of Winston-Salem, N.C.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

An opera for social justice

Frances Pollock

Frances Pollock

Frances “Katie” Pollock, a 2012 graduate of the Furman music program, has composed an opera based on the story of 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr., a South Carolina youth who was wrongly convicted in the 1940’s of murdering two girls and became the youngest person to be executed in the 20th century. The opera, “Stinney,” is being produced with the assistance of the Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where Pollock recently completed a master’s degree in voice. The Baltimore Sun reported on the opera by Pollock, who earned a degree in theory and composition from Furman.

Ghosts and songs of the apocalypse

joni-tevis-book-worldonfire-smallerWe live in a world of ghosts, says author and Furman English professor Joni Tevis. In her new collection of essays, “The World is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure and Songs of the Apocalypse,” Tevis embarks on journeys to places that are haunted with remnants of the past, responding to them both emotionally and intellectually, trying to get at the heart of how she and others experience them. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported on Tevis’ second collection of essays. Her first, “The Wet Collection,” was published in 2008.

“Dins Day” tops $1 million in gifts and pledges

dins-day2Furman University officials had high hopes for its first “Dins Day” celebration, a 24-hour fundraising event that took place on April 28, but the results exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.

The final tallies show that “Dins Day” raised more than $1 million ($1,010,450) in gifts and pledges from about 1,500 donor households.  Just as importantly, interest in the event wasn’t confined to the campus as social media carried the celebration to the Paladin faithful across the country and the world.

“The campaign was wildly successful, especially considering Furman’s size, and the fact that this was our first attempt at such a drive,” said Justin Rourk ’14, Associate Director of Donor Marketing.  “Very few universities are able to raise more than a million on their first try.”

Named for the university’s mascot, the Paladins, Dins Day was held in conjunction with the last day of classes at Furman, and was a day set aside to celebrate all things Furman. For the event, members of the Furman community wore purple, broadcast their Paladin Pride through social media (using #DinsDay) and raised money to support the university’s future students.

Rourk credits the success of Dins Day to an engaging social media component which fueled worldwide interest among the Paladin faithful. On Twitter and Facebook alone, the campaign reached more than a million people.

dins-day4“It’s impressive that our alumni, parents, students, friends, faculty and staff provided as much support as they did,” Rourk said, adding that the number of individuals directly solicited amounted to less than 30,000. “So to raise more than a million dollars with that base is pretty remarkable and definitely an outlier when you look at ‘give days’ at other schools across the nation.”

Adding more enthusiasm and a sense of urgency to the campaign were the number and size of monetary challenges tendered by university trustees and other members of the Furman family, not to mention the volume of smaller gifts from the broader Furman community. “We saw a good mix of large and smaller donations,” said Rourk.

Another factor for success was pairing Dins Day with the last day of classes at Furman, which spurred everyone to get involved. “It was a great way to energize the Furman base and to share a classic on-campus celebration with the larger Furman contingent around the world,” Rourk said.

Rourk said the Furman faithful who missed Dins Day this year shouldn’t worry.  The university will hold the event again in 2016 on the last day of classes.

For more information about Dins Day, contact Justin Rourk at, or (864) 294-3691.