Convocation: a Tradition Honoring Furman’s Values


By Hope Kelly, Contributor

The annual fall convocation took place Thursday morning, Sept. 3 in McAlister Auditorium. President Elizabeth Davis presided over the proceedings where Furman faculty, staff, parents, students, and community members gathered formally to start the academic year.

In her welcoming remarks after the faculty and platform party processed in, Davis established the role a university plays in students’ and faculty’s lives.

“A university is a community that encourages and nurtures individuals as they search for truth with passion, integrity, and rigorous intellectual discipline,” Davis said. “The university understands its mission to be not only the transmitter of knowledge, attitudes, and values, but also their examination and correction in light of continuing discovery and integration of knowledge.”

According to Davis in her welcoming remarks, the fall convocation is an opportunity to celebrate these values.

“We forever need to hold onto some disciplines referred to as beginner’s mind, the point of view unencumbered by the biases of experience. At the same time, we must keep a hand on those hard won lessons of experience,” Davis said.

During the convocation, the Furman University Singers, conducted by Hugh Ferguson Floyd and accompanied by Professor Charles Boyd Tompkins on the organ, performed the anthem “O Clap Your Hands” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Associate University Chaplain Maria Swearingen gave both the invocation at the beginning of the convocation and the benediction at the closing.

A number of individuals received special recognition for their hard work and achievements within the Furman community.

Furman presented an honorary Doctor of Humanities to Robert H. Buckman “for continuing to ‘disrupt’ the status quo with integrity, and for forever renewing the conscience of this institution with his leadership.”

The 2015 Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award was awarded to James Russell Dean II “for his compassionate ministry, his guidance at life’s pivotal moments, and his restorative work in the broken places that find every lifetime.”

The Furman Fellows of the Class of 2016 were announced. Jordan Brown, Jennifer Duer, Samuel Hill, Jonathan Kubakundimana, and Kristen Marakoff received this honor.

Finally, Professor of Education Dr. Scott Henderson gave the address entitled “Aspects of Transformation” discussing how Furman works to liberate the mind.

Student Government Association President Joseph Fretwell spoke at convocation on behalf of the student body.

“We are a university with leaders and students that believe in the importance of asking complete questions and searching for their answers. Furman really believes in understanding and respecting the dignity and rights of all people,” Fretwell said.

The student body itself attended convocation for a variety of reasons, but the fact that it was offered as CLP credit had a large influence.

“I had never been before, and my teammates have always said that it was really awesome. I’ve also heard that Furman Singers put on a great show there,” senior Casey Wells said. “And I need more CLPs so that I can graduate.”

For freshman Richard Rosheed, convocation was an opportunity for him to see fellow classmates and the faculty and staff of Furman in a more formal setting.

“Convocation is so the students can hear the important people on campus and what they have to say as they present important points that can be critical to your success here,” Rosheed said.

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