Recent Gift Endows Duke Scholarship, Jumpstarts Program

By Amanda Richey, News Editor

The Duke Endowment provided a large grant in Nov. to support two programs at Furman.

The $22.3 million gift officially endowed the Duke Scholarship at Furman and provided funding for a pilot mentorship program. The grant accounts for seven percent of all donations given by the Duke Endowment to Furman in their almost 100-year partnership.

The Duke Scholarship was previously provided through annual funding given by the Duke Endowment and money from Furman’s general operating budget. Now the scholarship is funded in perpetuity, according to senior administrators. The scholarship will be funded from interest collected off of $22 million of the gift.

“[With this gift] we don’t ever have to decide somewhere out in the future that we have to spend our money differently,” Furman president Elizabeth Davis said. “We are always going to have the money here to support the Duke Scholarship at full tuition.”

The Duke Scholarship provides students with full tuition over all four years and is one of the premier scholarships Furman offers. According to Brad Pochard, associate vice president of admissions, nearly 1000 students apply annually for four merit scholarships – the Duke, Lay, Townes and Hollingsworth scholarships. Only 50 to 80 of the applicants receive merit scholarships, and only five to ten of these students receive the Duke Scholarship annually.  

“These scholarships are vital to attracting the students we want to attract,” Pochard said. “[The scholarship recipients] are getting big scholarships all over the place. So then the question becomes ‘what else?’”  

The merit scholarships help attract students, but the “whole package” is what brings them to Furman, according to Pochard.

The additional $300,000 in the gift will fund a pilot program, titled Community of Scholars, for three years to provide mentoring and group learning to currently enrolled and future Duke Scholars.

“In a nutshell, we are trying to enhance the actual intellectual experience that students have on campus,” said Dr. Scott Henderson, a professor in the education department. Henderson will serve as the faculty director of the pilot program.

The idea for a Community of Scholars arose from the scholarship-winning students and was fully supported by the administration.

“To date, all it has been is a scholarship, and that’s it,” Davis said. “When you look at some of the premier scholarship programs at schools across the country there tends to be programming around it, so that it’s more than just ‘you got some cash’ but that there is value beyond just the tuition piece.”

Currently 91.8 percent of Furman students receive aid from the university either in the form of merit, departmental or need-based scholarships. According to director of Financial Aid, Forrest Stuart, Furman’s commitment to institutional aid is not likely to change, especially because the price of tuition is likely to stay high. The recent endowment of the Duke Scholarship will free up extra cash to support student life services or academic programs.

“Schools like Furman have a high price tag because we care about the individual student,” Stuart said. “The endowment [of the scholarship] keeps Furman from diverting operating funds to pay for Duke Scholars. That’s one thing we don’t have to worry about.”

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