Diversity Matters

Past, Present, and Future: Furman University’s Renewed Commitment to Black Life

While some of the University’s black students and alumni may not have been satisfied with the Furman of the past, the University is actively making a commitment to a much brighter future.

Furman enrolled its first African American Student, Joseph Vaughn (pictured here) in 1965. Today, the University has begun to take a much more intentional look at not only rectifying its past, but also fostering a better quality of life for Black students in the future. Furman University

The launch of the Task Force on Slavery and Justice in 2017 and the publication of the Seeking Abraham Report in 2018 heralded a new era for Furman University. The private, predominately white liberal arts college which enrolled its first African American Student in 1965, has begun to take a much more intentional look at not only rectifying its past, but also fostering a better quality of life for Black students in the future.  

The Black at Furman Instagram account and Black Alumni petition, created during a summer of historic social and political unrest, demonstrated that the university should not only keep an eye on the past but also the present. For many black students on Furman’s campus, the environment is a culture shock. Many students lack a sense of community and belonging. While the university’s commitment to righting historic injustices is admirable, what black students crave now is an environment that welcomes them, a campus that showcases an appreciation for not just diversity but inclusion as well. No student attending Furman expects a college experience like that of a Historically Black College or University, but they do want one that still shows respect and an appreciation for black history and culture.

With the launch of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Black Life at Furman this fall, the University is taking a more intentional look at the issues of the present. The committee, comprised of black administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and students, is tasked with creating recommendations for fostering a more welcoming Furman for the black Paladins of the future. So far, the task force has primarily focused on the retention, recruitment and experience of black students.  

At the conclusion of the committee, Furman will take a look at the recommendations presented and begin implementing its policies and suggestions along with those proposed in the Strategic Diversity Plan. While some of the University’s black students and alumni may not have been satisfied with the Furman University of the past, I am here to say that the University is actively making a commitment to a much brighter future.

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