By Lane Fahey, Contributor
Furman University’s academic year officially began with Fall Convocation Thurs. Sept. 1 in McAlister Auditorium. Students, faculty, alums and family members were all invited to the event. President Elizabeth Davis began the program by comparing “The Odyssey” by Homer to the upcoming 2016-17 year at the university.
“The Odyssey is a 2800 year old story told by a Pagan Greek and yet its themes of leaving home, of trial and tribulation, sacrifice and redemption have resonated through the centuries,” Davis said.
Davis further explained how the new year is a time to embrace the future ahead.
“The beginning of an academic year is a time of renewal, and expectation as we set forth on our own odyssey, as individuals and as members of this academic community. Today marks another journey in our individual and collective lives.”
Austin Pretsch, president of the student body, then proceeded to welcome the Furman community from the perspective of a student. Pretsch looked back on his past three years here at Furman, and how quickly they have gone by.
Dr. George Shields then presented various awards, with the help of President Davis and Board of Trustees member Michael Riordan. The Faculty and Staff Meritorious Awards for Diversity & Inclusion, Rosa Mary Bodkin Award, Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award, the Bell Tower Award, and the Furman Fellows.
The Bell Tower award was given to Rubye and Wayne Reid. Mr. Reid graduated from Furman in 1968, and the couple have been extremely involved in the Furman community throughout their lives.
The Furman Fellows were also announced during Convocation. Ian McConnell, Emilee O’Brien, Lattie Reddoch, Amanda Richey and Katie Scholles were all recognized as the Furman Fellows for the class of 2017. These five individuals have risen to the top of their class, representing leadership not only at Furman, but also in the Greenville area.
Interim Dean of Faculty Dr. Ken Peterson gave the Convocation address. Peterson described changes in curriculum and the strategic vision shaping Furman’s future.
“The strategic vision has to be strategic and in the context of an organization that means that it has to create value for somebody. That is to say, if we do things that are consistent with our strategic vision, somebody should think those things are of great value,” Peterson said.
Peterson outlined five changes to the Furman experience, collectively dubbed the “Furman Advantage.” These changes encompass improved access to extracurricular “engaged learning” opportunities, better advising, an integrated four-year pathway individualized by student need, program opportunities to work with and for communities outside of Furman’s gates and a new external facing health institute similar to the Riley Institute and Shi Center.
All of these changes are underway with students and faculty in mind: “I am happy to report that the principle focus of the strategic vision, the Furman Advantage, is enhancing the student experience here at Furman,” Peterson said.