Furman aims to become the model for what the world needs today from a university: a center of learning that reinvigorates the notion that the private good of educated individuals must inevitably accrue to the public good of community well-being.
Our faculty, staff, alumni, and community members will guide students on a personalized trajectory that helps them discern their calling and discover deeply satisfying careers, address critical social issues, and improve the well-being of their communities.
The power of this journey will come from our ability to move forward as a connected community network: embracing and seeking out diversity of talent, experience, perspective, and identity as we work together to prepare our students to enter a complex and ever-changing world.
This bold, new vision will demonstrate the relevance and value of a liberal arts education and will establish Furman as a model for a transformative student experience by:
I. Making real the citizenship promise of a liberal arts education, graduating students who appreciate difference, value community, and are prepared to make a lasting impact
Through guided self-reflection, community-based projects, and global learning experiences, Furman students and alumni will be uniquely well prepared for career success and meaningful contribution to their communities. At a time when the world needs leaders who can cross divisive boundaries to create shared progress, Furman will develop graduates who can work across differences and who are able to apply their broad knowledge of culture, history, and human experience to both lead and collaborate. This commitment by a private university to the well-being of its community and to the world can help make tangible for students and community alike the humanistic ideals of a liberal arts and sciences education.
II. Ensuring that communities have access to expertise, ideas, and projects that meet real needs
Furman will be a leader in producing people, programs, and ideas that fuel community well-being by ensuring that the ideas we produce also are disseminated widely to the community members and groups who can benefit from them. We will engage community leaders and policymakers so that the projects we undertake are born of real community need and are relevant to those we seek to serve. And when we discover approaches that work, we will share those widely so they can inform new programs and policies.
III. Building a set of data and research expertise that will inform best practices across the academy
As the university develops methods to more effectively track student experiences and community-centered learning, the combination of new and expanded data sets and richer, more in-depth student reflections will provide a treasure trove of information to feed faculty research and scholarship on student learning and the outcomes of specific experiences. Research and analysis by our scholars will give Furman a platform to widely disseminate knowledge and best practices and to serve as a model for other universities.
IV. Extending community impact through educational programming for all ages
In addition to being known for excellence in traditional undergraduate programs, Furman offers educational programs to a broad spectrum of lifelong learners, all of which flow from the wellspring of the liberal arts and sciences. For example, since 2003 the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative has educated nearly 1,800 civic and community leaders around South Carolina in the theoretical and pragmatic value of actively cultivating a broad spectrum of talent, ideas, and experiences in the workforce to ensure opportunity, access, sustainability, and growth. Bridges to a Brighter Future is a nationally recognized program that promotes college access and success for local high school students whose potential outdistances their circumstances. We will continue to invest in and grow these programs and others that demonstrate the tangible relevance of liberal arts and sciences education, extend Furman’s community impact, and expand the community of experts to students of all ages.
To achieve our ambitions, we must move forward together as a connected community network:
I. Living up to our ideals by welcoming and embracing diverse identities, experiences, and talent
The power of a Furman education will be most fully realized when we ensure that students from around the state, around the region, and around the world can benefit from the experiences we offer. We are committed to recruiting a diverse student body and to reducing barriers erected by race, identity, religion, experience, income, disability, and other characteristics that often divide people. It is not sufficient simply to enroll students from diverse backgrounds; we must also create opportunities for meaningful engagement and encourage the exchange of differing viewpoints. We must foster the development of a community of experts within our campus that welcomes each and every student to contribute their best ideas and simultaneously challenges their assumptions. This diverse student community further requires a diverse group of faculty and staff to teach, mentor, and challenge them. In creating and supporting an empowered community of students and mentors, we will demonstrate our values—characterized by community spirit, continuous improvement, and shared aspirations.
II. Engaging faculty, staff, students, and the broader Furman community in an inclusive process as we work collaboratively to chart Furman’s future path
We will support this work with effective administrative structures, appropriate incentives, and sufficient staffing and programmatic resources to scale up successful programs and ensure that promising new approaches can be sustained over time. New and better systems for inviting and tracking student participation and for assessing outcomes will be important, as will feedback from students, parents, employers, and community partners to help us calibrate and ensure we are living up to our goals. We must also expand the visibility, reach, and impact of Furman to a broad array of stakeholders. To be successful, we will need the commitment and deep engagement of the Furman community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents—as well as the engagement and support of the community of experts beyond our gates.
III. Using The Furman Advantage as both an opportunity and an imperative to activate and engage our alumni, broadly defined
Our alumni are the most compelling ambassadors of the Furman experience and represent the broadest reach of our intellectual capital in the world. We need them to challenge us, support us, and participate in our programs. We will broaden the definition of the alumni community and strengthen allegiance and engagement among those who have participated in the Riley Institute, Bridges to a Brighter Future, Undergraduate Evening Studies, Center for Corporate and Professional Development, and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. And by demonstrating a compelling vision and broad impact, we will motivate our alumni to make Furman University a top priority for their philanthropic support.
IV. Engaging the philanthropic community as a critical ingredient in carrying out this work
We believe this ambitious vision will be inspiring to foundations, corporate and civic partners, and individual donors. We will demonstrate to our funding partners how their investment in Furman will transform the experience for our students while simultaneously advancing the well-being of Greenville and communities across South Carolina and around the world.
Elements of The Furman Advantage
The Furman Advantage guarantees every student an unparalleled education that combines classroom learning with real-world experiences and self-discovery. This integrated four-year pathway prepares students for lives of purpose and accelerated career and community impact—demonstrating in concrete terms the value of a Furman education.