“Because Furman Matters” campaign reaches successful conclusion

Furman giving to Furman

The $25 gift that pushed campaign over the top

The $62.5 million Charles H. Townes Science Center was part of the "Because Furman Matters" campaign.

The $62.5 million Charles H. Townes Science Center was part of the “Because Furman Matters” campaign.

Furman University officials announced today that the school has raised $406 million to fund a number of major initiatives as it brings the “Because Furman Matters” capital fundraising campaign to a successful close.

The campaign, which had a goal of $400 million, officially ended Dec. 31, 2013.  It is the largest fundraising campaign ever among private colleges in South Carolina, and is also among the largest undertaken by any of the nation’s liberal arts colleges.

“The sustained investment in Furman’s long-term success represented by this campaign has immeasurably strengthened academic life and the student experience at Furman,” said Interim President Carl Kohrt, a 1965 alumnus who served as Chair of the Board of Trustees when the campaign was announced. “It ensures that the University remains a vital educational and economic resource in Greenville and the Upstate.

“We are humbled by the generosity of the many individuals and organizations that have recognized Furman’s value to the nation’s higher education community, and have made this extraordinary success possible. On behalf of the Trustees I extend our deepest gratitude and thanks.”

The quiet phase of the “Because Furman Matters” campaign began in July 2004, and the university launched the public phase in the fall of 2007 with $225 million in commitments.  The campaign was strategically focused on building resources for scholarships, academic programs, enhanced student life experience, renewed excellence in athletics, and expanded efforts in the Greenville community.

Four Furman presidents were at the helm during the campaign—David Shi ’73, Tom Kazee (acting president), Rod Smolla and Kohrt.  The two alumni presidents—Shi and Kohrt—each committed more than $1 million to the campaign.

The majority of the campaign commitments, about 62 percent, were designated to the university’s endowment in support of academic scholarships, programs and professorships.  Payments from those commitments, along with investment earnings, have grown the University’s endowment to a market value of $623 million as of November 2013, up from $380 million in early 2004.  The corpus of the endowment is invested in perpetuity, and its earnings provide annual support for the university.

Seventeen percent of the campaign total supported building projects such as the Charles H. Townes Science Center, Herring Center for Continuing Education, the Trone Student Center renovation, and the Pearce-Horton Football Complex, while 21 percent represented annual gifts in support of operating costs, funding which has become increasingly critical in reducing the dependence on tuition as a revenue source.

In all, 27,250 alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends of the university made gifts to the campaign, including 55 of $1 million or more.  Seventy-eight percent of Furman alumni participated in the campaign, and 81.2 percent of the faculty and staff participated.  Parents of students contributed a total of $48 million.

Mike Gatchell, Furman’s vice president for development, said the 2001 bequest from the estate of the late John D. Hollingsworth provided the pivotal cornerstone gift to the campaign.  The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, N.C., which provides regular financial support for Furman and three other institutions of higher education in the Carolinas, also played an important role by providing a total of $54 million over the course of the campaign.

“The longstanding support of the Duke Endowment allowed us to dream ambitiously about the campaign as we mapped our plans to support Furman’s strategic goals,” said Gatchell, a 1991 Furman graduate.  “The generosity of Hollingsworth bequest allowed us to set our sights higher than we might have otherwise, especially in the face of economic uncertainty.”

“Because Furman Matters” weathered both the stock market difficulties of 2008 and the Great Recession, both of which provided the impetus for a signature scholarship fund to help students achieve their goals of attaining a Furman degree.

In 2009, the university established the Furman United Scholarship Fund to help students facing unforeseen financial circumstances complete their education. To date, approximately $2 million has been raised from hundreds of donors, and 165 students have received assistance from the fund.

“It would be hard to find a more compelling testimony to the value of a Furman education than the investment so many donors, including current students, made to support this critical scholarship fund,” Gatchell said.  “Though not planned from the outset, this effort was symbolic of the overall spirit of the entire campaign.”

The campaign was co-chaired by Furman trustees Doug Freeman of Jacksonville, Fla., a 1972 Furman graduate, and Ron Malone of the Greenville area, who graduated in 1981.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107 or vince.moore@furman.edu.