CLP- From James Baldwin to Black Lives Matter 10/15

5-6p.m., October 15, Patrick Lecture Hall. Speaker: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Ph.D.

Alum Alexander Stubb talks about European integration

alexander-stubbIn an Oct. 7 speech at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, former Finland Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said his interest in European integration began in a classroom at Furman University in the 1980s.

Stubb, a 1993 Furman graduate, currently serves as Finland’s Minister of Finance and is Governor of the European Investment Bank. He served as Prime Minister of Finland from June 2014 to May 2015. His speech at the College of Europe is available online.

Stubb, graduated from Furman with a degree in political science and was awarded the Bradshaw-Feaster Medal for General Excellence as the top male graduate in the class. In addition to earning a Ph.D. in international politics from the London School of Economics, he has a M.A in political science from the College of Europe and a diploma on French language and society from the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Bridging the gap

The blunt truth is, after her parents divorced when she was 10 Furman wouldn’t have been on many people’s list of potential futures for Casey Crisp ’09. It was on the only one that mattered, however.1006257_642801849082966_397026073_n

“My dad called Furman’s main phone number and said I’d love to talk to someone about something my daughter could get involved with this summer to be around some good people,” Crisp said. “He said, I don’t really know what I’m asking for but . . . I feel like she needs something that I can’t really provide.”

Judith Chandler, Ph.d., then the director of Furman’s Bridges to a Brighter Future program, quickly got Crisp involved with the school’s scopes youth program. Maybe it didn’t save her life. Then again, maybe it did.

“My mom still does and did at the time really struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism. It was really bad growing up. I have a very limited relationship with her even now,” Crisp said. “We were very poor. I remember there were weeks where we only ate beans, where we didn’t have enough gas to get to school.”

Crisp clung to the structure the Scopes camps offered, going back to campus every year and becoming a counselor for younger campers. Still, actually attending Furman—or any other college—remained little more than a fantasy when she entered high school.

Chandler knew by that point, however, that Crisp couldn’t have been a more perfect candidate for Bridges to a Brighter Future if she’d been created in a lab. Established in 1997 thanks to the vision and founding endowment of Mamie Jolley Bruce, Bridges is a seven-year program designed to help low-income and first-generation students in the Greenville area “whose potential outdistances their circumstances” earn college degrees from any school of their choosing.

Candidates are nominated by their guidance counselors, and once Crisp was selected at the end of the ninth grade she joined her classmates in attending four-week summer residential programs at Furman for three years and participating in a year-round monthly academic support program called Bridges Saturday College. Crisp excelled and was eventually admitted to the place she’d come to see as a second home.

“(Furman) was definitely where I always wanted to go. I grew up as a kid going there to feed the ducks,” Crisp said, and she credits Bridges with making her believe it could be a reality. “It was never something I felt like wasn’t going to happen.”

A “hodgepodge” of loans and financial aid, including a Bridges teacher who sometimes bought her books, allowed Crisp to pay the bills and earn a history degree with a secondary-education certification. She also soaked up everything else Furman offers, including twice being elected Chi Omega president, and when she graduated her 2009 senior class gift was $43,650 to support a scholarship for a Bridges student.

“I found a lot of value outside of the classroom, maybe too much,” she said with a laugh. “I always joke that I really wish I would have spent as much time focused on my classes as I did the extracurriculars, but I just really wanted to take advantage of everything that I could there.”

Not that things were always fun. The final component of Bridges is “Crossing the Bridge,” which provides academic and emotional support to students during their time in college in the form of personal visits, texts, and phone calls. Crisp needed every bit of it once she entered a world that was foreign in many ways while simultaneously trying to maintain relationships with family members who didn’t support and sometimes resented her attempts to change her life.

“It’s hard to come somewhere like Furman and have all of that stuff as part of your background,” Crisp said. “My junior and senior year I wouldn’t come home for Christmas break because our house was just so bad and there was no money and there was no telling if the power was going to be on or if I was going to have a place to sleep, those kinds of things . . . Parents weekend, I remember people would come to town and take (my classmates) to these really amazing dinners. Parents weekend was really hard for me, because it was like, I don’t have this.”

What she did have, however, were others in Bridges.

“In Bridges we talk a lot about how do you own your story and share that in a way that leaves you feeling empowered versus feeling resentful, because it’s really easy to fall into that trap,” Crisp said. “I always wanted to forget who I was and not be the kid of drug-addicted parents. I didn’t want that to be my life anymore. A big benefit of Bridges was having other people who understood what you were going through.”

That’s the goal, according to Tobi Kinsell, who headed Bridges for 11 years.

“That’s a mistake we make by assuming that once you get to college everything’s going to be OK, because actually those challenges that students have . . . of poverty and low educational attainment come with them,” she said.

The circumstances that make teenagers eligible for Bridges are unimaginable to most people, but even with assistance current director Pam Davis says it’s ultimately the kids who do the heavy lifting.

Bridges alumna Willie Gosnell with Casey Crisp at Travelers Rest High School graduation

“We’re looking for that student who we feel like Bridges is going to work for,” she said. “We see that they’re going to be able to dig deep and persevere and meet us halfway. I think it’s just that combination of the program and all the support that Bridges provides but also that student who is going to be able to shine.”

It’s not a coincidence Kinsell uses similar words to describe her one-time protégé and longtime friend.

“Casey just has a tremendously bright personality . . . She’s got a lot of energy and a light in her, and that definitely helps,” Kinsell said. “What separates Casey from other students like her is her grit and determination.”

After graduation, Crisp taught high school for a couple of years and took a job at Bridges before deciding to pursue a Masters in Higher Education Administration at George Washington University. She says she misses Bridges “a lot,” but that feeling made her realize she wants to help others facing the same seemingly insurmountable hurdles that blocked her way.

“I don’t know that I knew this when I was in college, but I would say that my passion area has definitely become college access,” she said. “I know that my heart is with working with students who need support. In my own life I don’t know how I would have made it without those people along the way. They came in many different forms and at many different times, but I definitely didn’t go that path alone.”

And as hard as Crisp has worked to escape her past, she’ll never forget or regret it. She has yet to miss a Furman Homecoming, and she will always be thankful for the one person who was wise enough to know what he didn’t know and never stopped trying to help—her father, Al, who passed away recently.

“He really cared and wanted me to do better than him but just really didn’t know how to go about that. That really defined my family support or lack thereof,” Crisp said. “But I know me graduating from college was the most proud I think he could ever have been. I was really lucky to have him. He was always a good dad.”

For more on Bridges to a Brighter Future, click here.

Furman Symphony opens Sound Quality Series Oct. 16

Dr. Cecilia Kang

Dr. Cecilia Kang

The Furman University Music Department announces its Sound Quality & More Music Series for the 2015-2016 season.

The Furman Music Department presents more than 220 public events each year. Sixteen of those events are spotlighted in the 2015-16 Sound Quality & More series including student ensemble performances, Hartness organ recitals, faculty chamber music collaborations and a costumed opera production with orchestra. All Sound Quality events start at 8 p.m. and are located on the Furman University campus where parking is free.

Tickets are available in advance or at the door. Season sets are $150 and include all 16 performances. Individual event tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students, with the exception of opera The Magic Flute, Feb. 25 and 27 (see listing).

Opening the Sound Quality ensemble series is a performance by the Furman Symphony Orchestra Friday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium. The concert, “In a Galaxy Far, Far Away,” is conducted by Furman’s Thomas Joiner, D.M., and celebrates the release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. The concert also introduces faculty clarinetist Cecilia Kang, D.M.A., who will perform Debussy’s Première rhapsodie. The concert opens with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

In addition to the Oct. 16 concert, the Sound Quality & More Music Series also features these events:

Thursday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m.
Hartness Organ Series
Douglas Cleveland, Organ
Daniel Memorial Chapel

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 8 p.m.
Faculty Chamber Music Series
Daniel Recital Hall

Saturday, November 21, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Furman Percussion Ensemble
Daniel Recital Hall

Friday, December 4, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Handel’s Messiah
McAlister Auditorium

Friday, January 15, 8 p.m.
Faculty Chamber Music Series
Daniel Recital Hall

Thursday, January 21, 8 p.m.
Hartness Organ Series
Charles Tompkins, Organ
Daniel Memorial Chapel
Part of the annual Church Music Conference

Thursday, February 11, 8 p.m.
Hartness Organ Series
Caroline Robinson, Organ
Daniel Memorial Chapel

Friday, February 19, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Furman Bands with Cecilia Kang, Clarinet
McAlister Auditorium

Monday, February 22, 8 p.m.
Faculty Chamber Music Series
William Preucil, Violin
Daniel Recital Hall

Thursday and Saturday, February 25 & 27, 8 p.m.
Opera—The Magic Flute
McAlister Auditorium
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students

Monday and Tuesday, March 14 & 15, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Furman Singers Tour Concert
Daniel Memorial Chapel

Tuesday, March 29, 8 p.m.
Guest Artist Recital
Ann Schein, Piano
Daniel Recital Hall

Friday, April 1, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Furman Jazz Ensemble and Combos
Daniel Recital Hall

Thursday, April 7, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Furman Chamber Choir with Charles Tompkins, Organ
Daniel Memorial Chapel

Friday, April 15, 8 p.m.
Sound Quality Concert Series
Spring Oratorio: Bernstein & Borodin
McAlister Auditorium

For more information and to order tickets visit  or contact the Furman Department of Music at (864) 294-2086, email

About Dr. Cecilia Kang

South Korea-born clarinetist Cecilia Kang, D.M.A., joined the Furman music faculty this fall. Dr. Kang, who grew up in Los Angeles and Toronto, is internationally active as a performer and educator. She previously held teaching positions at North Dakota State University (Fargo) and Concordia University (Mich.) and during the summers, she served as clarinet artist faculty at Grumo Music Festival in Italy, Luzerne Music Center (N.Y.) and Bayview Chamber Music Festival (Mich.).

A dynamic chamber musician, Kang has collaborated with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and members of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Danish Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She has also appeared at Thy Chamber Music Festival (Denmark), IMPULS Contemporary Music Festival (Austria), Castleton Festival (United States), Collingwood Music Festival (Canada), and Banff Centre (Canada).

The Vandoren USA Performing Artist has presented recitals and master classes at institutions throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, South Korea and China. Kang holds a D.M.A. from the University of Michigan.


Fall Festival of Choral Music presents concert Oct. 17

Furman singers, fall convocation 15The Furman Fall Festival of Choral Music will close with a concert on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on the Furman University campus.

The concert is free and open to the public.

For the festival, singers from high school programs in the region are invited to participate with mixed quartets of their finest singers. These groups practice and perform under the baton of Furman Singers director Dr. Hugh Ferguson Floyd who leads Saturday’s culminating concert with the Singers.

Combined, the Furman Singers and High School Festival Choir number nearly 180 voices. The choirs will be accompanied by Grace Odell ‘16 (Pelzer), and Furman Music Professor Dr. Vivian Hamilton, and will perform a mix of traditional hymns, folk songs and spirituals.

Floyd is Coordinator of Choral Music at Furman. Prior to his appointment at Furman, he served as Director of Choral Studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College. He has also been a guest lecturer at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. Floyd served as Director of Choral Activities and Voice Instructor at the famed Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan and taught at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Floyd is a graduate of Furman, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Michigan.

For more information about the event, contact the Furman University Music Department at (864) 294-2086, or email the department at

The Berlin Wall revisited

Tensley-Head-Shot, cropped2012 Furman University political science and German major Brandon Tensley attempts to uncover the root causes of xenophobia among people from former East Germany. In a piece he wrote for the Washington Post, Tensley teases out whether or not xenophobia may be attributed to Germany’s communist past. Tensley is a 2015-2016 Luce Scholar in Thailand. He was a 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Germany and is a graduate of the University of Oxford.

George and West open Tocqueville series

Robert P. George, Ph.D., and Cornel R. West, Ph.D., two prominent thinkers on the right and left, respectively, will speak on the Furman University campus about Christianity and politics Thursday, Oct. 22, at 5 p.m. in Watkins Room of the Trone Student Center.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Tickets are required and will be available one hour before the event in the Trone Center.

“A Conversation About Christianity and Politics” is the first of four events in the Tocqueville Program’s 2015-2016 lecture series on Christianity and Politics.  The event is sponsored by Furman’s College Republicans, College Democrats, Endowed Lecture Fund, and the Tocqueville Program, and is part of the university’s Cultural Life Program.

Robert P. George, Ph.D.

Robert P. George, Ph.D.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. His recent honors include the United States Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland.  In July 2013, George was elected Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, George earned a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University. He is author of In Defense of Natural Law, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality, The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis, and Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism, and co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, and What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

Cornel R. West, Ph.D.

Cornel R. West, Ph.D.

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his MA and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

West has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.  He has appeared frequently on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN and C-Span as well as on the Tavis Smiley PBS TV Show. He can be heard weekly on public radio with Tavis Smiley on “Smiley & West.” His work seeks to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Upcoming 2016 Tocqueville lectures include:

Wednesday, Feb. 24–Charles Mathewes, “Christian Citizenship in the 21st Century,” 5 p.m., Watkins Room, Trone Student Center

Wednesday, March 30–Mark Lilla, “The Return to Political Theology” 5 p.m., Watkins Room, Trone Student Center

Wednesday, April 13–Clifford Orwin, “Abraham’s Confrontation with God (Genesis 17-19),” 5 p.m., Watkins Room, Trone Student Center

For more information, contact Paige Blankenship in the Department of Political Science, (864) 294-3547, or visit:

Men’s Soccer vs. Wofford 10/10

7p.m., October 10, Stone Soccer Stadium. $4 Adults