Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.02
Liaison Laura Bain
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

Furman University
IN-49: Innovation C

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Laura Bain
Associate Director of Sustainability Assessment
David E. Shi Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Task Force on Slavery and Justice and Seeking Abraham Project

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

With the support of the board, president and provost, the Task Force on Slavery and Justice was formed to examine Furman University’s historical connections to slavery and to help Furman better understand and learn from its past. This pursuit builds upon Furman’s principles as an academic institution that embraces liberal arts and sciences ideals, including a high regard for human value, reflection, innovation, and ceaseless accuracy. The process has been guided by scholarship and undergraduate research in communication studies, history, sociology and sustainability, among others, and led by students, faculty, staff and alumni.

A Special Committee was formed and all recommendations were approved by the Board of Trustees. In May 2019, President Davis announced the following Board of Trustees Resolution:

Dear Furman Community,

Since the Task Force on Slavery and Justice was formed in 2017, our campus has been working together to examine and fully understand our history and our connections to slavery, and how to best use this knowledge. This collective work has encouraged and guided us in acknowledging this past. We cannot change our history, but we can, as we are doing today, show that we are true champions for a more inclusive future.

In October (2018), the Board of Trustees accepted the Task Force on Slavery and Justice report, “Seeking Abraham,” endorsed expanding the Joseph Vaughn scholarship, and encouraged the administration and faculty to move forward in considering the report’s other recommendations not under Board purview. The Board also established a special committee to consider the report’s recommendations that required trustees’ approval. The Special Committee on Slavery and Justice gathered information, met with the Task Force and other experts, and interviewed current and former trustees to produce a set of recommendations it presented to the Board this past weekend.

At a campus event this morning, we announced that the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the special committee’s recommendations, including removing the name of the university’s first president, James C. Furman, from the building located at the heart of campus, and renaming it Furman Hall, in honor and celebration of the entire Furman family and all of the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have contributed to the history of the university.

The university will also create a statue of Joseph Vaughn, Furman’s first African-American student, and place it in a prominent, comprehensive place of celebration and reflection on campus to help tell the story of Vaughn’s important contributions to Furman’s history.

The other recommendations approved by the Board include:

Naming the lakeside housing area the Clark Murphy Housing Complex in honor of Mr. Murphy, an African-American who worked for many years at the Greenville Woman’s College, which later merged with Furman University.

Naming the walkway area leading up to the Bell Tower as Abraham Sims Plaza, in recognition of Mr. Sims and other enslaved persons who built and worked on Furman’s various campuses prior to the university moving to its current location.

Honoring Lillian Brock-Flemming and Sarah Reese, Furman’s first female African-American students, in a comprehensive place of celebration and reflection on campus. The university also will explore naming programs related to their fields of study and their connections to Furman and the Greenville community.

Continuing to inventory and rank the university’s use of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles as part of its overall investment process.

In concert with the Board, president, faculty, staff and students, reviewing the university’s mission, vision, values and motto, and recommending any potential changes to the Board for approval.

In consultation and coordination with faculty, staff and alumni, providing context in markers and plaques throughout campus to honestly acknowledge the university’s history and tell a more complete and inclusive story about the people and actions that shaped Furman.

The Board also committed to providing the lead gift for the creation of the Joseph Vaughn statue and to supporting other related projects.

Alec Taylor, chair of the Board of Trustees, and I would like to share our gratitude and appreciation to the Task Force and the Special Committee for their commitment to carrying out this important work in a thoughtful and meaningful way. We understand that there is nothing we can do to alter or fully address our past. We can, however, make real changes that show our commitment to diversity and inclusion and to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to thrive at Furman and to feel a sense of belonging here.

Please see our news release for more information about today’s announcement.


Elizabeth Davis

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Coordination & Planning
Diversity & Affordability
Investment & Finance

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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