Furman Chorale performs March 3

chorales fall 2013 croppedThe Furman University Chorale will present a concert Tuesday, March 3 at 8 p.m. in Daniel Memorial Chapel on the Furman campus.

Conducted by Music Professor Vivian Hamilton, D.M.A., and assisted by Furman junior Henry Branson (Chapel Hill, N.C.), the concert is free and open to the public. Furman sophomore and pianist Kevin Edens of Marietta, S.C. will accompany nearly 40 voices in the concert.

The Chorale will perform a variety of secular folk tunes and sacred music including pieces by Gwyneth Walker, John Clements, and Robert Schumann. Furman senior Doug Harville of Louisville, Ky. provides oboe accompaniment for Irish folk song “Carrickfergus.”

For more information about the concert, contact the Furman University Music Department at (864) 294-2086.

About Dr. Vivian Hamilton

Dr. Hamilton is conductor of the Furman Chorales and serves as collaborative pianist. An accomplished pianist as well as vocalist and conductor, Hamilton imparts a wealth of musical expertise to her students. In addition to her work at Furman, she is minister of music at First Baptist Church, Greenville, and holds the position of principal keyboard artist with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. She holds a doctorate from the University of South Carolina, a master’s from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a bachelor’s from Furman University.

New program connects students with business mentors


Furman University’s Undergraduate Evening Studies program is launching the Furman University Career Advancement Program this month to connect students in three accounting and financial management classes with business mentors.

Robyn Miller-17

Robyn Miller, Undergraduate Evening Studies

Robyn Miller, a graduate student in Clemson University’s education and student affairs master’s degree program and an intern with Furman Undergraduate Evening Studies, created the program which will match about 20 students with the mentors.

“We’re recruiting (mentors) like mad,” she said. Anyone in the financial fields, especially Furman alumni but also anyone interesting in mentoring students, can talk with Miller at the Undergraduate Evening Studies office or robyn.miller@furman.edu.

The initial events will begin Feb. 28. The first 30-minute session will connect mentors with mentees to set up meeting schedules and method of contact for the next six weeks. Session 2 is a 45-60 minute interactive professional soft skills workshop, facilitated by Miller with presentations by several of the mentors. The session will cover basic professional presentation skills, networking practice, cover letters and resumes, and interview tips. During Session 3, students will interview for a specific position in a mock interview with mentors.

On March 10, a networking event will be held in conjunction with the Greenville Chamber’s Business After Hours. An etiquette dinner, where students will learn about dining and networking during a meal, will be held March 18 at Furman’s Trustee Dining Hall.

Students participating should “gain some professional skills, increased confidence, connections in the business world, and possibly some lifelong friendships,” Miller said. Mentors, some of whom are returning from a program set up with the Greenville Chamber, could gain “a sense of satisfaction that they help someone younger and satisfaction in developing human capital in the Greenville area.”

Mentoring is a plus for people at all levels, said Tami Miller, Greenville Chamber manager of leadership development programs.

“I think you’re never too old for a mentor,” she said. But “college is a great time to begin.”

Mentorship for young professionals is often a way for them to “discover those things not written in black and white” about a job or career. Pulse, a Chamber organization for young professionals, has a mentorship program known as Pulse Pacesetters that connects Pulse members with community leaders.

“We’re finding the relationships transcend the year together,” she said. “Most of the people who truly have a heart for mentoring have a person in their lives who fed them.”

The Chamber is always interested in mentoring, said Hank Hyatt, Chamber vice president, economic development. “When you get right down to it, the Chamber is about making connections among business leaders and aspiring leaders. That’s the DNA of the Chamber.”

He said Robyn Miller worked with the Chamber and Greenville Technical College’s accounting program to establish mentoring and internship opportunities.

Miller first became interested in creating mentor relationships between business people and students and increasing internships while she had an assistantship with the Chamber’s Education and Workforce Committee. That program focused on mentorships non-technical students at Greenville Technical College and Greenville business people.

She learned that many of the internships for Greenville Tech students and other college students that are available in the Upstate lean toward technical industries.

Gaining knowledge through mentoring relationships and obtaining internships “are the new job requirement,” she said. “It helps the company get to know someone. It helps with all the things you can’t teach in school.”

Mentorship programs help students and business people “make connections and understand the world a little better,” Hyatt said. Mentors also gain from the program as “they get fed energy, enthusiasm, and give back to the community.”

The FUCAP coordinator also learned the value of mentoring through experience as Beth Crews, Furman’s director of Undergraduate Evening Studies, became her mentor while she was at the Chamber. That relationship led to her internship at Furman, her third while she has been a graduate student. She also held internships in the Civic Engagement Office at Clemson and Greenville Tech.

The Furman program is actually a modification of the Chamber program, she said.

Learn more about Furman Undergraduate Evening Studies and FUCAP.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Furman Drone Team wins again

Business Black Box other logoFurman’s drone team was recently selected by Business Black Box as a winner of its 2015 Innovation Award, one of seven awards made through the annual Business Black Box Awards. The Innovation Award is given to a person or company who has pushed the limits of what is already understood or possible.

“Innovation is all around us, so this award isn’t necessarily for the newest technology,” says Jordana Megonigal, Publisher of Business Black Box. “Rather, we see the innovation as coming from the person or people involved, and the technology is just a way of implementing a new idea. In this case, we are happy to recognize the Furman Drone Team, and Dr. John Conrad as its leader, for their work in the Poe Mill area, using drones to determine a correlation between light sources and crime rates.”

The Business Black Box honor comes on the heels of other recognitions. Last August, Furman’s drone team was awarded Drone Prize 2014, which was sponsored by Arlington, Va.-based Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.

Furman’s drone team also received Innovision’s Community Service Award last November for the cooperative project between the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department and other Furman departments in the study of street lighting and crime.

The drone project at Furman started as a collaborative effort among the university’s Department of Physics and students in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) class taught by Mike Winiski, Associate Director of Furman’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

All Business Black Box award winners can be seen in the Q1 2015 issue of Business Black Box.

For more information, contact the Furman News and Information Office at (864) 294-3107.

About Business Black Box

Launched in 2008, Business Black Box is Upstate South Carolina’s business magazine and serves its vision to connect, advise, and grow local business. Published quarterly by Showcase Publishing in Greenville, South Carolina, Business Black Box has grown to a circulation of more than 11,000 business owners, reaching a readership of 38,500 business executives per issue. To learn more, visit www.insideblackbox.com.

World Religions Symposium set to begin Feb. 26

World Religions SymposiumFurman University will hold its annual World Religions Symposium beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Johns Hall 101 on the Furman campus.

The symposium, “Hinduism, A Living Tradition” is free and open to the public, and includes a series of lectures and other programs that run through April 20. All events are part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program except the March 3 lunch talk, and the final event, “Priesthood on Campus,” whose CLP status is pending.

The World Religions Symposium seeks to provide a forum for religious traditions to tell their own stories, no matter how complex or challenging they may be. The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplains, Furman’s Religious Council, Association of Hindu Students, Departments of Religion and Asian Studies, Anthropology Program, Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, Mere Christianity Forum, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Furman Interfaith Youth Core, and A.S.I.A. Club.

Opening the symposium 5:30 p.m., Feb. 26 is Furman Religion Professor Lisa Knight, Ph.D., who presents “Hinduisms: Debating Tradition and Origins.”

Other speakers and programs for World Religions Symposium are:

  • “Hinduism: From India to America,” Tuesday, March 3, Noon, Younts Conference Center (includes lunch), with Harvard Divinity School Professor Diana Eck, Ph.D. (For reservations, email susan.bennett@furman.edu, or call (864) 294-2133 by Feb. 24.)
  • “The Turbulence of Religious Difference: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism in India and America,” Tuesday, March 3, 7 p.m., Younts Conference Center. Dr. Diana Eck presents the Townes Lecture keynote.
  • Holi: Festival of Colors, Bharata Kalarpana School of Dance and Fine Arts, Thursday, March 5, 4:30 p.m., Daniel Chapel.
  • “Ritual Exclusions: Religion, Politics, and the Hindu Right in India,” Wednesday, April 1, 7 p.m., Plyler Hall 126, Townes Science Center, with Dr. Kalyani Menon, Professor of Religious Studies, DePaul University.
  • “Priesthood on Campus,” Monday, April 20, 7:00 p.m., Watkins Room, Trone Student Center, with Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar, Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lisa I. Knight is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions and Anthropology at Furman University. She researches everyday religious lives among a small religious group in South Asia, and some of her research was published in Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh (Oxford University Press, 2011). Her more recent work examines intersections between NGOs concerned with addressing societal ills and the songs Bauls compose and perform at NGO-sponsored educational functions. She is also writing about ethnographic representations of religious meaning.

Dr. Diana Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, Harvard College Professor, and Master of the Lowell House. Her academic work has a dual focus—India and America—and in both cases she is interested in the challenges of religious pluralism in a multi-religious society. Her work on India includes Banaras: City of Light, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, and India: A Sacred Geography. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project, which now includes a network of some 60 affiliates exploring the religious dimensions of America’s new immigration.

Dr. Kalyani Menon, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, is an anthropologist whose research focuses on the intersection of political ideology and religious practice in India. Much of her work has examined the religious politics of the Hindu Right in India. This research culminated in her book, Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is currently focusing on how Muslims residing in Old Delhi respond to the exclusionary and violent politics of the Hindu Right by constructing their identity, community, and national belonging in Modern India.

Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar is a Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Associate Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine. As an innovative teacher, he has won the Evangeline Papageorge award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award, and the Dean’s Award for outstanding teachers. Majmudar, faculty adviser to Emory’s Hindu Student Council, previously served 30 years as a Hindu priest to the Emory community.

For more information about the symposium, contact Maria Swearingen in the Office of the Chaplains at (864) 294-2133, or maria.swearingen@furman.edu.

Preucil and Ransom perform March 2

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Violin at Furman University William Preucil will perform with pianist William Ransom, D.M.A., in recital Monday, March 2 at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on campus.

The recital is free and open to the public.

Preucil and Ransom will perform sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven, Schumann, and Grieg.

Preucil, celebrating 10 years as a member of the Furman faculty, was appointed concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1994. Prior to joining the orchestra, Preucil performed seven seasons as the first violinist of the Grammy Award winning Cleveland Quartet. As a member of the quartet, he performed more than 100 concerts each year in the world’s major musical capitals and recorded for Telarc International the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 17 string quartets, as well as a variety of other chamber works. Previously, Preucil served seven years as concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony, after earlier holding the same position with orchestras in Utah and Nashville.

Actively involved as an educator, Preucil is Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has previously held positions as professor of music at the Eastman School of Music, Artist in Residence at the University of Maryland School of Music, and Distinguished Lecturer in Music at the University of Georgia.

will-ransom-spotlightPianist William Ransom has appeared in recital, as soloist with orchestras, and as a chamber musician in around the globe. He has performed in New York’s Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, and Merkin Hall; in Orchestra Halls in Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta; and at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. among others. He has performed for the American Ambassadors to Japan and Ireland, and his performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio and Television in the United States, Japan, Korea, Argentina, and Poland. His recording of “Enoch Arden,” by Richard Strauss, “The Music of Alfredo Barili,” and “Chamber Music of Johannes Brahms” were released on the ACA label. Ransom can also be heard on “Heartkeys,” from Rising Star Records.

Ransom is currently the Mary L. Emerson Professor of Piano and head of the piano faculty at Emory University in Atlanta. He is founder and Artistic Director of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta and has collaborated with such artists as cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Steven Isserlis; clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and many others.

For more information about the event, contact the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086.

A winning program on the field and off

women-soccer-celebration-smallIf you’re looking for a college women’s soccer program that wins both on the field and in the classroom, you would be wise to consider the one at Furman.  According to USA Today’s “College Sports Rankings,” Furman is ranked No. 7 among the top 10 women’s soccer programs that excel both in sports and academics.  The ranking is based on the “athletic success of the team, the overall quality of the school and the academic success of the players. This means that these are great colleges to go to for a great education as well as a chance to play sports.” In the past nine years, the program at Furman has produced 40 All-Southern Conference players and 115 Academic Honor Roll members.

Thursday & Saturday: Lyric Theatre Double Feature

8 p.m., Thurs. & Sat, Feb. 26 & 28, McAlister. Grant Knox directs Dido and Aeneas & The Medium. $10-$20.

Furman receives $500,000 gift to support Poverty Studies

poverty-image-2Furman University officials announced today that a Furman trustee and his wife have made a $500,000 gift that will create an endowment to support the university’s popular and innovative Poverty Studies program.

The gift comes from Alec and Susan Taylor of Charleston.  Alec Taylor is a 1975 Furman graduate and has been a member of the university’s Board of Trustees since 2012.

“We have been fortunate in our lives to work with wonderful organizations that are doing meaningful work supporting families and communities,” the Taylors said.  “The work Furman is doing with the Poverty Studies program and the young people it is guiding demonstrates the university’s commitment to serve as advocates for social justice and to support vulnerable people locally and beyond. We are proud to assist Furman in this important work.”

Poverty Studies, which explores the effects and causes of poverty and its potential solutions, is the most popular minor at Furman.  With approximately 90 students expected to be enrolled in the program by the end of this academic year, Poverty Studies is by far the largest minor, and is larger than almost all of Furman’s 47 majors.

The endowment created by the Taylors’ gift will primarily support the minor’s extensive summer internship program.  In addition to taking six courses, each Poverty Studies minor is required to complete a summer internship of at least eight weeks working directly with people in poverty.  About one-third of those internships each summer are conducted at service agencies in the Greenville area, while the rest are spread throughout the United States and internationally.

“We extend thanks and gratitude to Alec and Susan for this transformational gift to a program that speaks to the heart of Furman’s mission,” said president Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D. “Our goal is more than simply the awarding of degrees; we want our community to be fully engaged with the world at-large, to provide leadership where the needs are greatest. The Taylors’ generosity recognizes this aim, and ensures that the critical internship experience—which puts our students on the front lines—will continue to thrive.”

According to David Gandolfo, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy and chair of Poverty Studies, the student interest in the program has been growing exponentially since it was founded six years ago.  Gandolfo expects the program to plateau at about 100 students, with 25 to 30 students engaged in internships each summer.

“Some people found the high level of student interest in Poverty Studies to be surprising, but I didn’t,” Gandolfo said.  “There are a small number of defining challenges confronting our era, and solving poverty is one of them.  Our students are excited to be involved in that challenge, both with their hearts and minds.  This generous gift from Alec and Susan Taylor puts the program on solid ground, ensuring that it will be around for the long struggle against poverty, and allows us to continue to offer our students a profound internship experience.”

Alec Taylor retired in June 2014 as chairman and CEO of FGX International, the world’s leading designer and marketer of non-prescription reading glasses and sunglasses.  Prior to joining FGX in 2005, he was president and chief operating officer of Chattem, Inc., a publicly traded consumer products company.

He also spent 20 years as an attorney in the law firm of Miller & Martin LLP in Chattanooga, including a role as partner from 1983 to 1998. He received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law after graduating from Furman. He also serves as a trustee of Charleston Collegiate School and is an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law.

Susan Shulman Taylor is a graduate of East Tennessee State University and a longtime community volunteer working as a child advocate and in her children’s schools.  Together, she and Alec have five children and ten grandchildren and have been foster parents in Tennessee and Rhode Island.

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

Thomas recognized in Choice magazine

De-Testing and De-Grading Schools, a collection of essays co-edited by Furman University Education Professor Paul Thomas, has been named an Outstanding Academic 2014 title by Choice magazine.

Every year in the January issue, in print and online, Choice publishes a prestigious list of the best in scholarly titles reviewed during the previous calendar year. Thomas’ book was chosen based on overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form, originality or uniqueness of treatment, value to undergraduate students and importance in building undergraduate library collections.

De-Testing and De-Grading Schools: Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization is Thomas’ 15th book. It was co-edited by Canadian educator Joe Bower and published by Peter Lang USA.

A.L. Hsu, chair of the Childhood Education and Literacy Department at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, described the book as a “must-read for anyone in the field of education.”

“Bower and Thomas have edited a powerful volume that criticizes testing and the quantification of education. A selection of contributors with wide-ranging experiences in both K-12 and higher education offer diverse perspectives on the dangers of standardized testing and the utilization of grades to sort, classify and compare students,” said Hsu. “With the increasing number of state assessments and the elaborate systems of accountability in education, this volume inspires readers to focus on the primary goal of learning and how that can be achieved, beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through graduate school studies.”

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is the premier source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars and students in higher education. It is a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association.

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. He has written commentaries for the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Education Week, The State, and The Greenville News.

Read Thomas’ blog here, and visit the publisher’s book site at www.peterlang.com.

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

Furman presents Chinese Environmental Film Festival


Seven filmmakers from China and across the United States will converge at Furman University February 26-28 for the University’s first Chinese Environmental Film Festival.

The festival will feature three days of experimental, documentary, and feature films with environmental themes, together with expert commentary and question-and-answer sessions following each film.

Films, which range from short films of 12 minutes to full-length features, include up close and personal interviews with Chinese families, discussing the effects of tourism, development and pollution on their way of life. The films also highlight little known aspects of Chinese culture, such as the Na ritual specialists from the Yunnan and Sichaun provinces of southwest China and their use of incantations to protect the environment.

Filmmakers participating in the event include: Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji of Moso Folk Museum, Yunnan, China; Jenny Chio of Emory University; Fuji Lozada and Antonia Giles of Davidson College; Emily Yeh of the University of Colorado-Boulder and Asian Studies Assistant Professor Tami Blumenfield of Furman University.

“This dynamic festival will provide a unique opportunity to bring filmmakers and scholars together to share newly completed works with both Furman students and the Greenville community,” said Blumenfield, also the festival’s organizer. “With some of the most serious environmental problems in the world, expanding discussion on China and spotlighting some solutions is extremely important.”

The festival is supported by Furman University and a Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment grant, designed to encourage innovative interdisciplinary teaching, research and programming on Asia’s environment.

All films are free and open to the public. Showings will be held Thursday and Friday at Furman University’s Burgiss Theater at the Trone Student Center and on Saturday at McEachern Lecture Hall, Room 214, Furman Hall.

For more information, visit the Film Festival website here or contact the Asian Studies Department at (864) 294-2545.