CLP Thursday: “From Sea to Shining Sea”

7:30 p.m., Thurs., July 2, McAlister. Patriotic Celebration. Bing Vick conducts Greenville Chorale, & Les Hicken conducts Lakeside Concert Band. Free!


President Davis Urges Legislature to move swiftly on flag

elizabeth-davis-smallerFurman University President Elizabeth Davis has issued a statement of support for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia.

“I applaud and support the state’s leadership in the call to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds,” Davis said.  “South Carolina should be a place where all are able to fully participate in the social, economic, and civic life of our state—free from the fear and the symbols of racial segregation that diminish the life of all of our citizens.  It is my fervent hope that the General Assembly will act morally and swiftly to pass legislation to take down the flag.

“This is an historic time in the life of our state.  May those in charge have the courage to take action.”

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

James J. (Jay) Burks ’89 promoted to Brigadier General

On June 1, 2015, James J. (Jay) Burks was promoted to Brigadier General in a ceremony conducted in Falls Church, VA. Burks graduated from Furman with a bachelor of arts in business administration.

He is the Director of Manpower, Personnel and Resources, and Chief of the Medical Service Corps, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General.

Read more about Brigadier General Burks.

Speaking of Schools: President Davis reflects on first year

speaking-of-schoolsElizabeth Davis is just about to complete her first year as Furman’s president. In a wide-ranging podcast interview with Doug Keel, host of the South Carolina ETV Radio program “Speaking of Schools,” she discusses the university’s plans to attract more South Carolina students, become a more integral part of the Greenville community and address the challenges of the future. Listen to the interview on the “Speaking of Schools” website.

Upcountry History Museum Exhibit

Through Aug. 11, UHM-FU. “Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation” honors those who experienced the Great Depression & WWII.

A talent for bringing out the best


Just a few days after graduating with her elementary education degree from Furman, Madison Smith ’15 has happily taken the plunge into the world of adulthood.

She’s rented her first house near downtown Greenville and purchased two white rocking chairs that she assembled herself to use for daily al fresco dinners on the front porch.

The location couldn’t be better. Smith passes one of her favorite buildings on her commute to work and to Furman for graduate classes. It’s a surprising choice, a modest looking building with train-shaped playground equipment in the front.

“Every day, I get to drive past my dream,” said Smith.

It only took two weeks at the Meyer Center for Special Children for Smith to figure out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life: teach. She’ll begin teaching in a third-grade classroom of her own this fall at Oakland Elementary School in Spartanburg School District 2.

“I didn’t find teaching,” she said. “Teaching found me.”

A few years ago, Smith would have written her story a little differently. She had visited Furman briefly on a college road trip with her dad, Bill, but her plan was to attend Emory University.

At the last minute, she just had a feeling that something wasn’t right and she made a last minute decision to switch to Furman cold turkey.

Smith still isn’t sure exactly why, but thinks it may have been “divine intervention.”

From there, everything fell into place.

In her first semester as a freshman, Smith took Education Professor Judy Stuart’s Human Growth and Development course and was assigned to complete fieldwork in a preschool classroom at the Meyer Center. It was a perfect match.

She scrapped her plans to major in neuroscience and became an elementary education major instead.

“People tend to discount children with severe special needs,” said Smith. “It’s important to focus on what they can do, rather than on what they can’t do.”

During her sophomore year, she worked with Stuart to research iPad apps and how they can be used to help students with disabilities. She and other Furman education majors presented their research at the Council for Exceptional Children National Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Smith has since adopted Stuart as one of her two Furman moms.

“Madison Smith is one of the most multifaceted students I’ve met. Since meeting her as a freshman, I’ve seen her grow into a mature young woman with layers of talent,” said Stuart. “Her passion for working with children, particularly children with disabilities, is what underlies her motivation to learn and to succeed. Her thirst for knowledge is seemingly insatiable and her enthusiasm is infectious. She will be an incredible role model for the many students she will teach.”

Smith’s second mom, Nancy Cooper, Furman’s coordinator of volunteer services, has seen Smith walk through and create even more doors of opportunity for students during her time at the university.

Smith started out as a volunteer with Heller Service Corps and became the coordinator for Camp Spearhead, a program for youth and adults with special needs and disabilities in Marietta, S.C. She went on to serve as division head of special needs and was named the director of volunteer relations during her senior year.

One of Smith’s latest contributions to Furman is the Lunch Buddies program at Heritage Elementary School, which pairs Furman students and kindergarteners through fifth graders who are struggling either at home or at school. This year, 10 Furman students volunteered as mentors, which meant eating lunch and chatting with their new friends each week.

Cooper describes Smith as a “connector and reflector.” With her extensive network of friends from freshmen to seniors, Smith is gifted at connecting people to Furman programs that will interest them, said Cooper.

She’s also a reflector in that she always downplays her role in a project and puts the spotlight on others, said Cooper. “She always puts someone else first. She lives and breathes to make the world a better place.”

For Smith, her senior year was her most challenging as she tried to balance campus commitments, teaching full-time in a classroom, and completing assignments as a Furman student.

Still, she felt very prepared for her teaching career. “I feel like I know my stuff. I’m equipped to use new technology,” she said. “If I need help, all the professors in the Education Department have their doors open to me.”

Smith completed her teaching practicum in a second grade classroom at Holly Springs-Motlow Elementary School in Spartanburg School District One.

One of her most successful units was a poetry lesson centered around Sharon Creech’s book, Love That Dog, which tells the story of Jack and his beloved dog, Sky. Students used oil pastels and watercolors to tell stories of their own, which Smith turned into a three-dimensional bulletin board in the hallway.

“They completely blew me out of the water,” she said. “They were so proud of themselves.”

Now that graduation is over and summer is here, Smith isn’t slowing down. She was selected as the recipient of the Waco F. Childers, Jr. and Elaine Duffy Childers Special Education Scholarship for teacher candidates who demonstrate a desire to teach students with special needs and will begin graduate classes at Furman this month (June 9).

A fan of cooking, baking, and crafting, Smith said she’s already planning how she’ll fix up her classroom to harmonize with Oakland’s pirate theme. She already has pirate-themed books from Furman alumna Melinda Long ’82, such as How I Became a Pirate. She’s also contemplating a handmade burlap door sign that reads “S.S. Smith.”

One of her next projects: picking out a book to read on the first day of school. “I can’t wait,” she said.

Smith, a native of Isle of Palms, S.C., is the daughter of Bill Smith and Kathryn Martin. She has three siblings, Ford, Johnson, and Grace.

The comeback kid


Kadarron “KD” Anderson ’12 wasn’t your typical Furman football player.

For one thing, he was really, really good—first-team All-America good. For another, he grew up in the Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood, S.C., alongside more than a hundred other kids facing the world with their backs against the wall.

A Furman athletic scholarship was an opportunity boys who grow up foster care aren’t supposed to have, but Anderson wasn’t your typical boy in foster care, either.

“He was naturally gifted and had that inner drive to discipline himself, and that’s very rare for us to see,” says Doug Kauffmann, who served as Anderson’s pastor at Connie Maxwell from the time he arrived. “Maybe his first year or two might have been a transition time, but he really got to a point where he was smart enough to say this place has a lot to offer me. A lot of kids don’t ever get there, or they get there too late.”

Anderson was born in Rock Hill, S.C., the youngest of five children to a mother struggling with substance abuse that eventually left her unable to take care of the family. He and his older brother, Demarco, had the relative good fortune of eventually being placed in Connie Maxwell, which is considered one of the best children’s homes in the state, at the ages of 8 and 9.

It was maybe their last chance, but it was a real one. Miller Murphy, Connie Maxwell’s longtime director of communications, remembers Anderson “carrying a lot of hurt” when he first walked through the doors, but it didn’t take much time to set a course from which he’s never wavered.

“He teases us. He says when he first got to his cottage, he saw they had a Nintendo and everything was OK then,” Murphy says.

Anderson embraced structure in his life, excelling in school, and it became apparent along the way that despite his small size he was exceptionally athletic. He and Demarco went on to star in football and basketball at Emerald High School, and by his junior season Kadarron—no longer small—was emerging as a Division I prospect perhaps too talented for Furman to land.

He was getting scholarship offers from mid-majors, schools that compete a level up from Furman in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but Anderson knew Furman had more to offer than sports in the form of academic reputation. “I visited Furman after sophomore year on a college tour not even thinking about football,” Anderson says. “I wanted to get an academic scholarship. That’s what I was striving for.”

Anderson was the ideal fit for Furman’s model highlighting the holistic education of a student-athlete. Clint Hill, director of athletics fundraising, says, “Furman’s athletics department strives to provide ‘Life Lessons through the Pursuit of Athletics Excellence.’ Those life lessons include time management, work ethic, and being a part of something bigger than yourself . . . a team, a class, a university.”

Furman also had the added bonus of proximity. Anderson’s mother and three sisters had reentered his life, and he didn’t want to leave them again. “I wanted to stay close to home so my family could come to the games,” he says.

They did, and he gave them a show as a ball-hawking linebacker. Anderson joined Will Bouton ’02 as the only two Paladins to ever lead the team in tackles in a season three times, and he graduated in four years with a degree in business administration. “He was a tremendous player,” Furman coach Bruce Fowler ’81 says.

The New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans both signed Anderson to free agent NFL contracts, and he was among the final cuts for each. Now settled back in Greenville, Anderson is a facility director for D1 Sports Training and a frequent presence at lunchtime basketball games on the Furman campus.

“I think every kid grows up wanting to be a professional athlete . . . Just getting the opportunity to be there for a short time was a dream come true for me,” he says.

Married with a small child and another on the way, Anderson is at ease with the NFL not working out, perhaps because he long ago learned to recognize what’s truly important in life. Though reluctant to talk about himself during an interview, Anderson hasn’t been shy about sharing his inspiring story with at-risk children. That volunteer work earned him the prestigious Palmetto Patriot Award in 2010.Unknown

“People ask that question a lot: How did you overcome that adversity? And I think from a young age I kind of the made the decision that I was going to take the cards I was dealt and I wasn’t going to let that be an excuse for me not being successful and achieving my goals,” he says. “I learned to not dwell on things you can’t control.”

For fundraisers like Hill, on the front line raising dollars to provide student-athlete scholarships like the one that brought Anderson to Furman, this kind of inspiration and impact is all the motivation he needs. “Kadarron’s story gets to the heart of what we do in the Paladin Club . . . scholarships provide opportunity for kids to live out their dreams. We are very proud of KD, and there is no better representative in our community than this young man.”

And in Anderson’s own words, “Having my whole family come up for football games helped bring my family back together, and we’ve made sure that we’ve stayed close. Furman played a huge role in that,” he says, noting his mother has been clean for 12 years. “I came to Furman more prepared for life than some people who are actually raised by their parents.”

A voice for Greenville’s seniors


Furman University’s Senior Leaders Greenville is designed for people who aren’t ready to retire from life and who want to learn more about the issues and challenges facing their age group.

Senior-Leaders-Greenville-Logo-ColorThe program “helps them to be a voice for their peers,” said Nancy Kennedy, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman. Program participants hope that their combined wisdom and experience will generate a powerful voice of advocacy for seniors, resulting in better choices for aging well.

“It’s definitely worth your time if you’re willing to put the time in,” said Susan Peck, a Greenville resident for 35 years who was in the first Senior Leaders Greenville class. “I think it’s unique” with nothing else in the area that gives a person such broad knowledge of the issues facing senior citizens.

The program, designed and facilitated by OLLI, focuses on topics including healthcare, transportation, housing, government, technology, government, education, and leadership. Community partners supporting Senior Leadership Greenville are St. Francis Lifewise and Senior Action of Greenville.

Participants meet community leaders, activists, government leaders, and experts to dive deeply into these interests as well as learn about Greenville’s history and people.

The inaugural class last year had 29 participants with 27 graduating from the program. Six of the graduates were elected to the current Silver Haired Legislature, which meets and develops legislature that is presented to the General Assembly, she said.

Dan Garvin, one of the first-year participants and a delegate to the Silver Haired Legislature, said he saw an announcement about Senior Leaders Greenville in the newspaper and “it looked like a way to know what was going on.”

The group provided him with more information on senior issues, associations and events as well as helping him meet new people.

Peck, an OLLI member whose daughter has been involved in Leadership Greenville and the Liberty Fellowship, sai “This idea was not foreign to me,” she said.

“It was an incredible year,” Peck said. “Some subjects were of more interest to me than others. It made me think more clearly.”

She said she sees “the biggest issue facing seniors as loneliness and being alone and coping with everyday life. That is worse because of lack of access to grocery stores and transportation. Access to transportation in Greenville is horrendous.”

Garvin, who is originally from New York, also sees the major issue facing senior citizens in the state to be transportation. “The biggest problem is there is not any in the rural areas.”

This could be an issue discussed in the Silver Haired Legislature because “most folks don’t know what is needed.” Getting seniors from all across the state together – either in Columbia or online or on the telephone is important so they will learn about issues facing all parts of the state.

“People in the Low Country have different problems than those in the Upstate, Garvin said.

Applications to attend Senior Leaders Greenville are currently being accepted, with a deadline of July 1.

Members meet monthly on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Furman or other locations around the county, focusing on a specific topic each month, Kennedy said.

The program, which began after research into similar programs, is based on the Leadership Greenville program at the Greenville Chamber, she said. After seeing and hearing the results of Leadership Greenville, “we thought why seniors couldn’t do something like this,” she said.

“We’re looking at it with a senior slant,” she said. For example, if education is a topic, Greenville Leadership would look at K-12 and higher education while Senior Leaders Greenville would study re-education for adults.

The program begins with an orientation in August and concludes with a graduation luncheon in May. The goals of the program are diverse, Kennedy said. Some participants may become more involved in volunteerism while others may become active in civic organizations.

Some “may just become better informed,” allowing them to become better citizens, she said.

Kennedy said the organizers were pleased with the initial year. “It’s so rewarding to plan something and see it happen the way it was supposed to,” she said. Graduates are helping plan the second year of Senior Leadership Greenville and are creating an SLG Alumni organization.

“We’ve seen the participants get more involved in things,” she said. Even at the orientation meeting, “they immediately started networking with each other.”

To qualify, a participant must be at least 55 years old and be interested in learning about issues affecting senior citizens and how to create changes surrounding those issues, she said. The cost is $350 and scholarships are available. Applications can be made online at or by calling 864-294-2998 and up to 40 participants will be selected.

Although facilitated by OLLI, participants are not required to be OLLI members. Themajority of the first year participants were not OLLI members when they joined, but Kennedy hopes many will become involved in the lifelong learning organization.

Senior Leaders Greenville is a result of OLLI’s goal of “looking at ways to enhance our program,” she said.

This year’s OLLI program offers 100 classes “from Latin to genetic to hiking to history” for retired people around the Upstate, she said. Membership in the lifelong learning program is $50 annually and classes taught by volunteers are $50 each. Packages of classes are available at a reduced price. Last year the organization, which began in 1993 as Furman University Learning in Retirement and transitioned to OLLI in 2008, had 1,770 members. OLLI also offers its members bonus activities throughout the year.

Garvin said that participants in Senior Leaders Greenville, including those who had lived in South Carolina for years, did not know anything about the Silver Haired Legislature until it was mentioned at one of the sessions.

“We just found out about it,” he said, and “we thought it would be interesting to find out what it does.”

Peck, who said she’s not particularly political, said that if the Senior Leaders Greenville participants who were elected to the Silver Haired Legislature have their way, “changes are coming.”

And that could be important. She said she doesn’t believe the General Assembly and other government officials think much about the needs of senior citizens.

“It’s not one of the fuzzy subjects,” she said. “That the children.”

The S.C. Silver Haired Legislature was created in 1999 by the General Assembly and held its first organization session that year. The body has 152 Representatives, all of whom are registered voters over the age of 60. Representatives are elected by counties on a ratio of one each per 5,000 South Carolinians over age 60. The group meets every September in legislative session to formulate resolutions to present to the General Assembly the following January.


A star behind the scenes


Like many college freshmen, Caitlin Cain ’15 wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she got to college. Unlike many college freshmen, it didn’t take her long to find out – one play, to be exact.

“I just had a really, really great time,” the Atlanta native says of her gig as assistant stage manager for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, “and right after I did that the cast book came out and I was cast in my first show.”

That sealed it, and Cain soon abandoned her plan of going into communications. She became a theatre arts major before her sophomore year, which, truth be told, is what she wanted to do all along.

“That’s where my passion was,” she says. “Not necessarily where the money is, but definitely where my passion is . . . I acted in a lot of shows in high school, and my aunt was actually an actress so she was an inspiration to me. I’ve been wanting to be in theatre for a very, very long time—since I was a little kid.”

By the time Cain graduated last month she had acted in four shows and stage-managed five others. She knew she’d like the former; the surprise was she may like the latter even more.


Caitlin Cain in the Furman Theatre production Durang/Durang

While acting is all about being seen, being a stage manager is almost exactly the opposite.

“It’s really cool how you can be in charge of everything back stage. It’s a really selfless job,” she said. “You don’t really get a lot of recognition, but you get the opportunity to help everyone . . . It’s kind of neat to have two passions in the theatre that are very different, because most people have a specialized area.”

As busy as Cain was with productions, she devoted nearly as much time and energy to a rapidly growing department thanks to a $2 million grant from the Duke Endowment in 2011. She was integral in organizing a hugely successful “SNL Skit Night,” which played off the show Saturday Night Live, and was vice president of the “Order of the Furman Theatre” her senior year.

“We had a very, very small department, but we were given Duke funds . . . and we started a scholarship program so our program has been growing ever since,” she said. “We went from having maybe 15 majors my freshman year to having 35 this year.”

That’s still an intimate group, which Cain bargained for when she chose Furman. She ended up getting even more out of her experience, however.

“I’ve always been drawn to the passion and excitement of being on a stage and how awesome that is,” she said. “I had not been exposed to stage managing before I came to Furman, but I really, really love stage managing.”

So much so that, with degree now in hand, Cain wouldn’t mind making that her professional life. She attended the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Greensboro, N.C., in March and is currently a technician intern at Actor’s Express in her hometown at night while working as a photo double during the day for the character Marcy in Tyler Perry’s television series If Loving You Is Wrong.

She won’t turn down a full-time job if it’s offered, but the exposure to television has only shown Cain how much she loves theatre.

“In theatre, you are constantly working towards a final product, and the entire process is more fluid. Even during actual performances, it is still a learning process and each night is different based on the variety of audiences. In film, you maybe do a scene five times, and then it’s finished. The scenes are often filmed out of order, and you don’t get a sense of finality with your work. There’s no coherency,” she said. “My honest opinion so far is that I prefer theatre—acting and stage managing alike—to film work.”

The Furman theatre department’s 2015-16 season gets under way Oct. 15 with Hair, followed by God of Carnage, Rumors and Arcadia.