Furman University

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Furman University
Former names
Furman Academy and Theological Institution
Furman Theological Institution
Furman Institution
Motto Christo et Doctrinae
Motto in English
For Christ and Learning
Established 1826
Type Private
Endowment $650 million [1]
President Elizabeth Davis
Academic staff
Undergraduates 2,662
Postgraduates 115
Location Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.
Campus Suburban
750-acre (304 ha)
Colors Purple and White          [2]
Athletics NCAA Division ISoCon
Sports 20 varsity teams
Nickname Paladins
Mascot Paladin
Affiliations NAICU
Annapolis Group
Oberlin Group
Website www.furman.edu

Furman University is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Greenville, South Carolina. Furman is the oldest and one of the most selective private institutions of higher learning in South Carolina.

Founded in 1826, Furman enrolls approximately 2,700 undergraduate students and 200 graduate students, representing 46 states and 53 foreign countries, on its 750-acre (304 ha) campus.

The school was named for Richard Furman of Charleston, a clergyman considered one of the most important Baptist leaders in the antebellum United States. He was a minister of the First Baptist Church in Charleston and became the first president of the Triennial Convention, the first national body of Baptists in America.[3]



Furman Academy and Theological Institution was established by the South Carolina Baptist Convention and incorporated in December 1825 in Edgefield, but was moved to the High Hills of the Santee (now Stateburg, South Carolina) in 1829 because of financial difficulties. When the school was threatened with financial collapse again in 1834, the Reverend Jonathan Davis, chairman of the Board of Agents, urged the board to move the school to his native Fairfield County, South Carolina. It was not until 1851 that South Carolina Baptists were able to raise the necessary funds for the removal of the school to Greenville, South Carolina.

The Furman Institution Faculty Residence serves as a visible reminder of the early history of Furman University and its brief establishment in Fairfield County.[4][5]

Postcard of Furman University

Growth and expansion

The first school building from the downtown Greenville campus was transported to the current campus, where it still stands. In 1933, students from the Greenville Women's College began attending classes with Furman students. Shortly thereafter, the two schools merged to form the present institution.

In 1924, Furman was named one of four collegiate beneficiaries of the Duke Endowment. Through 2007, Furman has received $110 million from The Endowment, which is now one of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations. Three other colleges — Duke, Davidson and Johnson C. Smith — also receive annual support and special grants from The Endowment.[6]

As of the late 1950s, separate but equal laws had continued to allow Furman to not admit African Americans as students, part of the South's history of racial segregation in the United States. Soon after Brown v. Board of Education integrated public schools, some Furman students began to press for change.[7] In 1955, some students wrote short stories and poems in The Echo, a student literary magazine, in support of integration; school administrators destroyed all 1,500 printed copies.[7] In 1956,[citation needed] Furman began construction on its new campus, five miles (8 km) north of downtown Greenville. Classes on the new campus began in 1958.

By 1963, enough faculty were siding with the students over racial segregation that Furman's board of trustees voted for an open admission policy.[7] The trustees' decision was postponed and later overturned by South Carolina's Baptist Convention; open admissions weren't established at Furman until its incoming president, Gordon Blackwell, a past president of Florida State University, made open admissions a condition of his acceptance of the new position.[7] Joe Vaughn, a graduate of Sterling High School, became Furman's first black undergraduate in February 1965.[7]

Cherrydale building on Furman's campus

Recent history

After the 1991-92 academic year, Furman ended its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention and became a private, secular university, while keeping Christo et Doctrinae (For Christ and Learning) as the school's motto. Furman's "heritage is rooted in the non-creedal, free church Baptist tradition which has always valued particular religious commitments while insisting not only on the freedom of the individual to believe as he or she sees fit but also on respect for a diversity of religious perspectives, including the perspective of the non-religious person."[8]

Between 1996 and 2003, 308 Furman graduates received Ph.D. degrees, the most by any Southern liberal arts college, according to a survey by the National Opinion Research Center.[9]


David Shi, a historian, author and champion of sustainability, served as the university’s president from 1994 to 2010.[10] Rod Smolla resigned for personal reasons after holding the top post for nearly three years. Carl F. Kohrt held the position on an interim basis, until Elizabeth Davis became Furman’s 12th President on July 1, 2014. Davis came to Furman from Baylor University in Texas, where she was Executive Vice President and Provost.[11]


Furman offers majors and programs in 42 subjects. Undergraduates come from 46 states and 53 countries. Furman has produced six Rhodes scholars and 17 Truman scholars.[12]

The Bell Tower, an icon of the university

All students must complete general education requirements as part of the liberal arts curriculum. The general education requirements include mind and body wellness, textual analysis, two natural sciences, math/formal reasoning, two empirical studies of human behavior, history, ultimate question, foreign language, and world culture.


Furman University is the highest-ranked liberal arts college in South Carolina, the fifth highest ranked liberal arts college in the South, and nationally ranked #51 in US News and World Report's list of the top national liberal arts colleges. Furman's 2015 acceptance rate was 64.1%.[13]

The university's engaged learning academic program, which promotes problem-solving, project-oriented, experience-based education, has been mentioned in The Princeton Review, Peterson's Competitive Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The College Board College Handbook. The Princeton Review featured Furman in its "Best 378 Colleges" list and named Furman a "Best Southeastern College." The James B. Duke Library also received special attention, being ranked no. 7 in "Best College Library." Most recently, Forbes ranked Furman no. 14 in its list of top Southern colleges and universities and no. 76 nationwide.

In terms of the quality of the students, Furman was ranked no. 30 in the SSRN's "U.S Colleges and Universities Preference Rankings" based on the choice to enroll of high-achieving students.[14] The Chronicle of Higher Education noted Furman was no. 32 in the nation for the percentage of National Merit Scholars in its 2005-2006 freshman class.

Furthermore, publications have taken notice of Furman's academics, as well as its environmental responsibility. Furman was ranked no. 2 in The Daily Beast's 2011 edition of "Most Rigorous Colleges in America" and no. 13 on Newsweek's list in 2012.[15] The Princeton Review featured Furman in its "Guide to 286 Green Colleges," where it received a green rating of 98, with 99 being the highest possible score. Additionally, the Sierra Club included Furman in its list of the top 50 eco-friendly universities in America.


Furman University's campus is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the upstate region of South Carolna. A 40-acre (16.2 ha) lake is a highlight of the 750-acre (304 ha) wooded campus.

Furman Lake, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina

Paris Mountain State Park overlooks the lake and campus. Most buildings are of Georgian-style architecture. Many academic buildings and student residences stand around the lake, including the Bell Tower, which figures highly in school insignias and is a replica of the tower that once existed on the men's campus in downtown Greenville. Today, the campus is anchored by its newly expanded 128,000-square foot (12,000 m²) James B. Duke Library. Informally known as "The Country Club of the South," Furman was named one of the 362 most beautiful places in America by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The fall 1997 issue of Planning for Higher Education names Furman as a benchmark campus for its landscaping. The 1997 Princeton Review ranked Furman fifth in its list of beautiful campuses, based on student ratings of campus beauty. In 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Furman as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.[16] Students are required to live on campus, except senior year when they may participate in a lottery for a chance to live off campus.

James B. Duke Library at Furman University

On the north side of the lake are the four Greenbelt housing cabins,[17] and the Cliffs Cottage, which is a "green" building built as a showcase home in conjunction with Southern Living magazine.[18] Most juniors and seniors live in North Village Apartments, located on the north side of the Cliffs Cottage. The remaining upperclassmen are either placed in dorm-style residence halls or enter a lottery to receive an apartment in The Vinings, an apartment complex next to campus owned by the university. There are two other residence complexes (called Lakeside and South Housing) which house freshmen and sophomores. The campus also includes an Asian Garden, the centerpiece of which is the Place of Peace, a Buddhist temple moved to the site from Japan and reconstructed by traditional carpenters. A replica of the cabin that Henry David Thoreau inhabited while writing On Walden Pond is located on the west side of the lake.[19]

In 2013, the City of Travelers Rest annexed the Furman campus within its city limits. Greenville remains the listed city for campus addresses.[20]

Environmental sustainability

Furman University sustainability efforts are in keeping with national standards. Furman is working to conserve, reduce and recycle on campus, is constructing green buildings, provides students with alternative transportation. Furman has it owns farm on campus. The Furman Farm is a ¼ acre garden located beside the Cliffs Cottage and the Furman Lake. A wide variety of produce is grown throughout the year using sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotations, composting, drip lines, natural fertilizers, and integrated pest management. [21] The university hopes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2026. [22]

Furman was one of few institutions to receive a grade of “A-” from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card in 2011, it was one of the highest grades awarded. [23]

Student life

Undergraduate student housing

All full-time students, except those who are married or living at home with their parents or guardians, are required to live on campus in university housing. Furman undergraduates can choose between south campus housing and lakeside housing. South Housing includes the Geer, Manly, Poteat, Blackwell and McGlothlin dorms. Lakeside Housing includes the Gambrell, Ramsey, Judson, Townes, McBee, Haynsworth, and Chiles dorm. All student housing has air-conditioning, closets, wireless Internet access, and washer-dryer usage. The North Village is an apartment complex that offers apartment-style living for upperclassmen. North Village apartments offer two or four bedrooms, living room, full kitchen, balcony, two vanity areas, two bathrooms and closet and storage space. Within each bedroom, a full-size bed, desk, desk chair and dresser/hutch is provided for each resident. In 2012, the annual costs for residing in the on-campus dormitories was $5,198 per student.

Furman University's Hartness Welcome Center, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid


Furman University students are required to have a meal plan. Freshmen students are required to have an unlimited meal plan. The main dining facility is the Daniel Dining Hall. Renovated in 2006, Daniel Hall offers buffet-style dining and an Einstein Bros. Bagels location upstairs. The PalaDEN, dubbed the "P-Den" by students, offers Chick-Fil-A, Moe's Southwest Grill, Southern Pressed Juicery, and Sushi with Gusto. In 2011, a Barnes & Noble was built on campus, where students can get coffee from the Barnes & Noble Cafe which features Starbucks products. The Paddock[24] is an updated dining area with a bar and sit-down restaurant.

Student government

Furman University Student Government Association (SGA) works under a semi-Presidential system. SGA is made up of the executive council, and president, secretary, and two senators for each class. Each class elects a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Upon election council members are assigned within one of six committees to specialize in a particular area of student needs.

Fraternities and sororities

Furman University has five fraternities and eight sororities. Fraternities on campus: Beta Theta Pi, Kappa Alpha Order, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Nu.[25] Sororities on campus: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Zeta Tau Alpha.[25] The school also has two music based fraternities including Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a men's social fraternity with emphasis in music, along with Sigma Alpha Iota, a primarily female professional music organization.


Furman competes in NCAA Division I athletics, and at the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) level in football and is one of the smallest NCAA Division I schools in the nation. Furman fields 18 men's and women's teams, as well as 16 club sports and many intramural teams.[26] The university is a member of the Southern Conference. Furman is the only liberal arts college to be ranked in Sports Illustrated Top-100 America's Best Sports Colleges and has 32 former student-athletes competing at the professional level - the most of any Southern Conference member school.[27]

The team nickname, the Paladins, was first used by a Greenville, South Carolina, sportswriter in the 1930s. For many years the name "Paladins" just referred to Furman's basketball team. Until 1961 the school's baseball teams were known as the "Hornets" and the football teams as the "Hurricanes". On Sept. 15, of that year, the student body voted to make "Paladins" the official nickname of all of the university's intercollegiate athletic teams.

Points of interest

Notable alumni

Furman University is the alma mater to a head of government, a Nobel Prize laureate, winners of the Newbery Medal and the Grammy Award, as well as U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, state governors, and other government officials, judges, business leaders, entertainers, and athletes.

Notable alumni include soccer player Clint Dempsey; singer-songwriter Amy Grant; Herman Lay, founder of the Lay's snack food manufacturer; psychologist John B. Watson, founder of Behaviorism; U.S. Representative and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford; Clement Haynsworth, nominee for the United States Supreme Court; Nobel Prize winning physicist Charles Hard Townes; former prime minister of Finland Alexander Stubb; and former United States Secretary of Education Richard Riley.

Notable faculty


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External links

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