Furman University

Furman University is a private, coeducational, non-sectarian university in Greenville, South Carolina, United States. Furman is the oldest, largest and most selective private institution in South Carolina and is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. Founded in 1826, Furman enrolls approximately 2,550 undergraduate and 525 graduate students on its 750 acre (3 km²) campus. Its current president is David Shi, who graduated from Furman in 1973.

Furman is best known for its chemistry, history, music, religion, political science, and psychology departments. The psychology, computer science, and chemistry departments have earned high marks among professional organizations spanning the sciences (social, applied, and basic), notable for a liberal arts institution of Furman's size.

Furman University students have an unusually high acceptance rate into graduate schools. Approximately two-thirds of Furman students will earn graduate degrees. More of Furman University’s graduates have gone on to earn Ph.D. degrees in recent years than any other private liberal arts college in the South, according to a survey conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.

Furman University emphasizes "engaged" learning in which professors encourage undergraduate students to author articles, participate in internships, and volunteer in their respective fields of study. The Furman Advantage program funds research projects between professors and students. Furman receives funds annually from The Duke Endowment for general operating support and for special projects and programs. The center of engaged learning is the Max and Trude Heller Service Corps, formerly CESC, one of the nation's largest collegiate service-learning organization.


Furman was founded in 1826 as a Men's Academy and Theological Institute finally locating in Greenville, South Carolina in 1850, named after Dr. Jason Furman who set up a private trust to fund the original campus infrastructure. The original school building from that campus is located on the current Greenville campus today. 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. Furman began construction on its new campus, just five miles (8 km) north of downtown Greenville, in 1956. Classes on the new campus began in 1958. Now a private, non-religiously affiliated university, Furman was founded by, and affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention until separating in the 1991 - 1992 school year. However, the university's motto remains Christo et Doctrinae (For Christ and Learning), and, according to Furman University's official website, "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..."


Furman was ranked no. 15 in the Washington Monthly's Top US Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings based on its production of research valuable to society and its commitment to national service. Furman has been ranked no.4 in U.S. News Best Undergraduate Research Programs along with MIT, Stanford and Michigan. The university's engaged learning academic program, which promotes problem-solving, project-oriented, experience-based education, has received high praise from The Princeton Review, Peterson's Competitive Colleges , The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The College Board College Handbook . In terms of input, meaning the quality of the students the institution attracts, 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 in US) The Chronicle of Higher Education also ranked Furman no. 32 in the nation for the percentage of National Merit Scholars in its 2005-2006 freshman class.

According to a report from the American Institute of Physics, Furman is one of 35 schools whose physics departments offer a bachelor’s as their highest degree to average 10 or more undergraduate degrees for the classes of 2003, 2004 and 2005.


A 40-acre (0.1-km²) lake is at the center of the 750 acre (3-km²), wooded campus. Many academic buildings and student residences stand around the lake, including the Bell Tower. The Bell Tower figures highly in school insignias and is a replica (within 1/16th of an inch) 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 as well. To add to the campus's extensive merit for aesthetic beauty, the 1996 Fisk Guide to Colleges referred to Furman's campus as a "shining jewel." Also, the 1997 Princeton Review ranked Furman fifth in its list of beautiful campuses, this based on student ratings of campus beauty. Students are required to live on campus all four years. However, during a student's senior year, s/he may be eligible to live off campus through a lottery. There are two residence complexes (called Lakeside and South Housing), as well as four housing cabins which make up Bell Tower Housing. Most juniors and all seniors live in North Village Apartments, located near the Bell Tower.

Student life

Furman University Student Government (known as AFS or Association of Furman Students) works under a semi-Presidential system. AFS is made up of the executive council, and president, secretary, and two senators for each class. The class officers are assigned within one of six committees to specialize in a particular area of student needs.


Furman competes in NCAA Division I athletics as the Paladins. The university is a member of the Southern Conference. In 1988 Furman won the NCAA I-AA National Football Championship. Furman also appeared in the 1985 and 2001 NCAA I-AA National Football Championship game, but lost (to Georgia Southern and Montana, respectively). Furman, Colgate and Lehigh remain the only private universities that have appeared in the I-AA Football Championship game, and Furman is the only private school to win it. Over the past few years, Furman's football team has been consistently ranked in the top 3 spots in the NCAA I-AA polls, and recently climbed to no. 1 in the nation in the latest Sports Network polls . The Paladins have also claimed 12 Southern Conference football titles, more than any school in league history.

The men's soccer team has been ranked as high as no. 3 in the nation and has produced a share of professional players. Former star Clint Dempsey was the only American player to score a goal at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Few collegiate woman golf programs have produced more outstanding professionals than Furman, which boasts 11 former Lady Paladins on the LPGA tour, including two Hall of Fame inductees (Betsy King and Beth Daniel). Furman men's tennis coach Paul Scarpa is only the fourth college tennis head coach in history to reach 700 wins. He is currently the winningest active coach in the NCAA's and has coached 108 All-Southern Conference players. Furman's Rugby Club team has also proved notable in recent years, winning the East Coast Collegiate Championship five out of the last six years. Started in 1998 by John Roberts, the club continues to excel in Division III rugby in the southeast with many accolades. Despite winning the past few Division III titles, Furman makes a controversial decision to remain in Division III and not move up a level to face stiffer competition. This has been met with criticism as the past few years, Furman has outplayed their Division III counterparts. 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.

Notable alumni


Notable faculty

  • Albert Blackwell (retired) - Religion, author of The Sacred in Music
  • Chris Blackwell - Classics, author of Mythology for Dummies (co-authored with his wife, Amy Hackney Blackwell).
  • Jay Bocook - Music, composer of music for 1984 Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies in Los Angeles
  • Charles Brewer - Psychology
  • Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. - Physics, television pioneer, video game inventor
  • Jim Guth - Political Science, focusing on Religion and Politics
  • Mark Kilstofte - Music, winner of the American Academy in Rome's Rome Prize for 2002-2003
  • Hayden Porter - Computer Science
  • Richard Prior - Classics, author of 501 Latin Verbs
  • Mahon Bishop - Music and Vocal teacher to Broadway actors and many opera students; vocal instructor to Rudy Giuliani's daughter

Majors and concentrations

Social Organizations

Points of interest


External links

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