Marks of leadership

elizabeth-davis-townElizabeth Davis has been cracking gender ceilings for a long time, so recognition as Furman’s first female president doesn’t really resonate with her. “I understand the significance, but I don’t think in terms of ‘first female,’” she says about becoming the university’s 12th president on July 1, 2014. “I never have felt gender related barriers to the various stages of my life. I do recognize, however, there are a lot of women who have.” Since joining Furman as president, Davis’ biggest “but most rewarding” challenge has been to find as many forums as possible in which to listen to gain an understanding of the university “while not standing still.”President Davis spoke at length during an interview with Baptist News Global reporter Norman Jameson.

Furman board elects new trustees

Robert Hill, a 1983 Furman graduate, is chair of the Board of Trustees.

Robert Hill, a 1983 Furman graduate, is chair of the Board of Trustees.

Robert Hill, chair of the Furman University Board of Trustees, announced today that seven new trustees and one trustee emeritus have been elected to the board.

The new trustees are Kevin Bryant of Greenville, Kevin Byrne of Atlanta, Ga., Richard Cullen of Richmond, Va., Randy Eaddy of Winston-Salem, N.C., David Ellison of Greenville, James Ney of Atlanta, Ga., and Peace Sullivan of Miami Beach, Fla.  Robert Buckman of Memphis, Tenn., will be joining the board as trustee emeritus.

The new trustees will begin their terms July 1.  All have served previous terms on the board with the exception of Bryant and Byrne.

The bios for each of the trustees are below.  For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Kevin Bryant is Executive Vice President and Resident Managing Director of Aon Risk Service South, Inc., in Greenville.  Prior to that, he served as a principal in market sales for Mercer Health and Benefits, and was an employee benefits practice leader with Marsh and McLennan.  He graduated from Furman in 1985, and was a member of the Paladin basketball team.  He has served on the boards of the Commerce Club and Greenville International Business Center.  He has also been involved with the United Way of Greenville County and the United Way Greenville African American Leadership Council.

Robert Buckman served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Bulab Holdings, Inc., the holding company of Buckman Laboratories, from 1978 until his retirement in December 2000.  He is chairman of the board of Applied Knowledge Group, Inc., and chairman of Tioga Holdings, Inc.  He holds degrees from Purdue University, the University of Chicago and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University, Asbury Theological Seminary and Rhodes College.  He received Purdue University’s Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 2001.

Kevin Byrne is President and Chief Operating Officer of The University Financing Foundation in Atlanta.  He began his career with Arthur Andersen, and founded Byrne and Associates, a middle-market investment banking service provider.  A 1991 Furman graduate who earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he has been a member of Furman’s Trustees Circle, Young Benefactors and the Heritage Society.  He currently serves as president of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Association of University Research Parks.

Richard Cullen is chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, a law firm with more than 900 lawyers and 18 offices in the United States and abroad.  He graduated from Furman in 1971 and earned a J.D. degree from the University of Richmond School of Law.  His public service assignments over the years include serving as counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra investigating committee in 1987.  He has served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (1991-93) and Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia (1997-98).  He has been appointed to a number of boards and commissions, including the Board of Visitors at Virginia Military Institute.

Randy Eaddy is a senior partner in the Corporate Department of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton law firm in Winston-Salem.  He graduated from Furman in 1976 and received his J. D. degree from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  He currently serves on the boards of the Elon University School of Law, the Winston-Salem Arts Council and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.  In 1999, he received the 1999 President’s Award from the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists in recognition of his contributions to the African American community.

David Ellison is a Wealth Management Advisor for Northwestern Mutual in Greenville and co-owner of an employee benefits firm.  He graduated from Furman in 1972 and earned a MBA degree from the Clemson-Furman program. He has been president of the Furman Alumni Association and the Paladin Club.  In 1992, he was elected to the Furman Athletic Hall of Fame.  He is a former trustee of the United Way of Greenville County, and is past chair of the YMCA Endowment Corporation.  He is currently a director of Southern First Bank, and serves on the United Way Worldwide Planned Giving Council.

James Ney is a 1964 Furman graduate and holds a J.D. degree from the University of Georgia Law School.  He is an attorney and partner with Holt, Ney, Zatcoff and Wasserman in Atlanta, a law firm he co-founded in 1984.  He was special assistant attorney general of the State of Georgia for three years, and presently serves as a special attorney general for the State of Ohio.  He has chaired the Real Estate section of the Atlanta Bar Association, and has been named one of “Best Lawyers in Atlanta” by Atlanta Magazine.  He is also the recipient of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce award for “Outstanding Community Service.”

Peace Sullivan graduated from Greenville High School and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and received her master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University.  She practiced as a psychoanalyst in New York City, serving as director of development of the Training Institute for Mental Health, before moving to Miami Beach in 2005.  She has served on the Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina as well as the Ackland Art Museum at the university.  She currently serves on the Graduate Education Advancement Board at UNC and on the board of the Fine Arts League of Asheville, N.C.

FSO & Oratorio Chorus perform April 24

thomas joiner, portrait, sizedThe Furman University Symphony Orchestra and Oratorio Chorus will present a concert Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on campus.

“Old Testament Heroes,” is a Sound Quality Concert Series performance and is part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.

For the performance, Dr. Thomas Joiner conducts the combined forces of the Furman Symphony Orchestra, Furman Singers, Chorales, and student soloists who present Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Bacchanale” from Samson and Delilah, and Arthur Honegger’s 1921 oratorio King David, the seminal work that established his reputation as a foremost composer.

Dr. Hugh Ferguson Floyd narrates the Old Testament story of David. Theatre Arts Professor Maegan McNerney Azar appears as Witch of Endor.

Soloists for the performance are:

Jessie Barnett, mezzo-soprano, Greenville
Carmen Beam, soprano, Greenville
Elli Caterisano, mezzo-soprano, Greenville
James Arthur Douglas, tenor, Rome, Ga.
Abigail Hart, soprano, Asheville, N.C.
Kira Kaplan, soprano, Mechanicsburg, Penn.
Caroline LeGrand, soprano, Durham, N.C.
Alex Mason, tenor, Easley
Kristen Murdaugh, mezzo-soprano, Smoaks
Alicia Russell, soprano, Asheville, N.C.
Elliot Stegall, tenor, Gilbert
Katy Wilson, soprano, Raleigh, N.C.

Tickets may be ordered online. For more information about the concert, contact the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086.

Furman’s football pioneer

paladin-logo-smallerWhen Furman first sought to integrate its football team in 1969, it found what appeared to be an extraordinary candidate directly outside its gates. Rodney Acker earned the highest score among African-American students in Greenville County on the SAT. He was a standout football player at Beck High School. So four years after Joseph Vaughn became the first black student at Furman, Acker became the school’s first black football player. Acker talked about his experiences at the university during a panel discussion on campus titled “Athletics & Desegregation.” Read more in The Greenville News.

Greco to join Paladins

grecoRobbie Greco, a senior at Uppingham School in England who has played rugby for 11 years, has accepted a Furman rugby scholarship and will be a Paladin this fall.

Greco, 6’1, 215, is a prop and played on Uppingham’s First XV this fall. He joins Matty Newman, a rising sophomore, as the second English player to join the Paladins in as many years.

“Robbie worked hard to develop his positional skills knowledge and game understanding, and he was a competent and courageous rugby player. Robbie had a good work ethic and was very coachable,” said Uppington rugby coach Paul Westgate. “He understood his role in attack and defense, and one of his strengths was his ball-carrying ability. Robbie was also a good support player and a good team man.”

Greco, the son of David and Katherine Greco who reside in Hong Kong, began the sport in 2004 as a student at Chinthurst School.

“I have chosen to attend Furman because of its close-knit community and excellent faculty. The rugby team is outstanding and with John Roberts as our coach, coupled with a talented team it’s exciting to think that a national championship is within reach,” said Greco. “I can’t wait to start in August.”

Greco is part of Furman’s third scholarship class, the largest and most talented to date. The class also includes Jeff Rein, John Williams (both of Nashville, TN),  Josh Hager, (Whispering Pines, N.C.) Austin Willis (Atlanta) and Pierce Kirkland (Houston). Last fall, Furman captured the Southern Rugby Conference Title and ended the season ranked 6th in the nation.

Coach Roberts said Greco could contribute early as both of Furman’s starting props (sophomores Jeff Tongue and Adrian Marcogliese) are expected to be away next fall participating in study away.

“Robbie had a chance to run with our team recently,” said Roberts. “He runs well with the ball and is athletic. His rugby knowledge is exceptional. We are looking forward to seeing him in action.”






Taylor joins NPR political blog

npr-logoNational Public Radio announced recently that Jessica Taylor, a 2007 Furman graduate, will come on board to bolster its new political blog. Taylor, who joined The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., as a campaign editor last January, will be NPR’s lead writer for the political blog.  She begins those new duties in May, according to Adweek. Taylor was a political science major at Furman and served as editor of The Paladin, the school newspaper. She has also worked for MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd,” The Rothenberg Political Report, National Journal’s House Race Hotline and POLITICO.

Psychology Club lends a hand at Project Host

psychclubpicFurman University’s Psychology Club participated in the Lib Nanney Service Project this past Sunday. They cooked and served lunch at The Project Host Soup Kitchen. The service project, held for the first time this year, will be held annually in memory of Lib Nanney, who worked in the Psychology Department for 29 years. From left, are William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology Gil Einstein with Hayden Mbroh ‘16,  Jennifer Duer ‘16  and Mary Anne Short ‘16.

Paul Thomas publishes new book

Paul Thomas, roadbuilder-cover, sizedFurman University education professor Paul Thomas has published Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance (Garn Press).

Garn Press offers this description:

The central image and warning of the book—“beware the roadbuilders”—is drawn from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Thomas’ book, born out of blogging as an act of social justice,
presents a compelling argument that billionaires, politicians, and self-professed education reformers are doing schools more harm than good—despite their public messages. The public
and our students are being crushed beneath their reforms, Thomas writes.

In the wake of Ferguson and the growing list of sacrificed young black men—Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner—the essays in this book seek to examine both the larger
world of inequity as well as the continued failure of educational inequity. While each chapter stands as a separate reading, the book as a whole produces a cohesive theme and argument about
the power of critical literacy to read and re-read the world, and to write and re-rewrite the world (Paulo Freire).

Said Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, “Literature, Professor Thomas shows us, can and should be a source of ideas that challenge us to think critically about the world around us–especially the ways we educate our children … Thomas uses this wonderfully written book to engage readers with these ideas and to further the much-needed conversation concerning education policy.”

Before joining the Furman faculty in 2002, Thomas taught high school English in rural South Carolina. He earned undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of South Carolina.

He is a column editor for the English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, and series editor for Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres (Sense Publishers), in which he authored the first volume—Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels in 2010 and co-edited a volume on James Baldwin in 2014.

He was the 2013 recipient of the George Orwell Award presented by National Council of Teachers of English, and has written commentaries for the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Education Week, The State, and The Greenville News.

Read Thomas’ blog at and visit the publisher’s book site at

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

A documentary of hope

4-14-15 - Hope O. at Furman engaged

Hope Ogunsile, a Furman University junior majoring in film and business, parlayed her skills into an internship last summer with the Riley institute at Furman, the Charleston YMCA, and Camp Hope.

She presented a poster and video—the result of her internship—during FurmanEngaged! The video also is posted on YouTube and is being used by Mozaik, a team of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative that created Camp Hope in Charleston.

Leaders from all sectors of South Carolina, nominated by DLI alumni and invited to apply, take part in the Initiative, an interactive program where participants learn to understand and celebrate their diversity and try to find their “blind spots” and suspend assumptions about others. They create projects in their home communities and come away with focused decision-making skills and deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients, and constituents.

The Camp Hope video, running a little more than five minutes, “was my first hands-on project without someone behind me,” said Ogunsile, a Greenville native. “It was interesting. I definitely learned how to make a documentary-type film.

“One day I hope to be an analytical producer, which doesn’t now exist,” she said of her career goal. She said that job would be analyzing video, figuring how out to best use it, and teaching businesses how to use film in their marketing.

Basically, she said, that’s what her video of Camp Hope does. The evening camp in Charleston is designed for low-income, high-risk children aged about 6 to 13. They have interactions with police officers, learning how police can help them and the trouble they can find themselves in with gangs. The youngsters learn various skills, take boat rides on Charleston Harbor to learn about the history of the harbor and the city, and attend baseball games.

“They find shelter at Camp Hope,” she said. “The children learned that there are police officers who will take care of them.”

Many, she said, “had never been on a boat or even swimming.” Camp Hope gives them opportunities to see a different life and realize they can do something different from what they see in their neighborhoods.

Ogunsile also learned much during her internship. She became more proficient in pre-production, production, and post-production, she said, learning how to develop questions, interview kids, keep them on target and help them speak in complete sentences to say what they wanted to express. She also learned to blend into the background and how to edit out good material that didn’t match the video’s goal.


Learn more about FurmanEngaged! Day.

Furman listed among top “green colleges”

green-ranking-seal-2015Furman University is listed in the new 2015 edition of The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges, a guidebook providing information about the most environmentally responsible “green colleges.”

The newest edition of the free guidebook profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities.

The 218-page book can be downloaded for free at this link.

“We strongly recommend the colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, Senior VP-Publisher.

The Princeton Review chose the schools for the sixth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2014 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

The profiles in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body statistics. They also include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

Furman has been widely recognized for its commitment to sustainability.  In addition to being a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the university has been named a Campus Sustainability Leader by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and a Climate Action Leader by Clean Air-Cool Planet.

In addition to being the only liberal arts school in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in Sustainability Science, Furman built the first LEED-certified building in South Carolina and established the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability on campus.  The university recently earned a STARS Gold Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in recognition of its sustainability achievements.

For more information about Furman’s environmental efforts, contact the Shi Center for Sustainability at 864-294-3655.