Duke Endowment Awards Furman University $17 Million Grant

October 7, 2008

GREENVILLE, SC – October 6, 2008 – The Duke Endowment has awarded Furman University a $17 million grant, the bulk of which will be used to create a major scholarship program for out-of-state students to complement the Hollingsworth Scholarship program for South Carolina residents.

The gift represents the largest single cash commitment in Furman’s history.

Fourteen million dollars of the grant will go to establish the Charles H. Townes Scholarship program, which is named in honor of the Furman alumnus and trustee who received the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 2005 Templeton Prize.  By the time the program is fully implemented in 2012-13, the university will award 40 Townes scholarships worth approximately $30,000 each.

The remaining $3 million of The Duke Endowment grant will provide endowed professorships for the university’s nationally prominent Department of Asian Studies.  The new endowed professorships will support the work of existing faculty as well as add new professorships in fields related to Asian Studies.

“We believe these grants are an excellent way to continue Mr. Duke’s vision and hope for Furman University because he did believe so strongly that Furman matters, not only in South Carolina but in the Carolinas and the nation generally,” said Russell M. Robinson II, chairman of the Endowment’s board. “Over the past 80 years we have tried to support that vision with grants for Furman’s special areas of interest and capability.  Our hope is that Furman alumni and friends will be inspired to follow suit in supporting these and other strategic campaign objectives.”

The $17 million grant is the second major gift provided by The Duke Endowment in support of “Because Furman Matters,” the university’s ongoing $400 million fundraising campaign.  The Endowment made a $15 million commitment in 2006, the majority of which helped finance the new Charles H. Townes Center for Science.

“Two of the primary goals of the campaign are to increase the number of endowed scholarships for students as well as the number of endowed professorships,” said Furman president David E. Shi.  “This very generous grant from The Duke Endowment directly addresses these priorities and provides a great surge of momentum for the campaign.”

The Townes Scholars will be selected on the basis of academic achievement, overall accomplishment and potential to make significant contributions to university life, with significant consideration given to financial need.  Like the Hollingsworth Scholarships, the new Townes awards will include funding to support internship opportunities, research projects with professors and study away opportunities.

The first 10 Townes Scholars will enroll at Furman in 2009-10, and 10 more will be added each year until there are a total of 40 scholars at the university.  The Townes program joins the John D. Hollingsworth Scholars, James B. Duke Scholars and Herman W. Lay Scholars as the university’s top scholarship awards.

“Since the Hollingsworth Scholarships are for South Carolina residents, we thought it was important to create an equally prestigious scholarship program for out-of-state students,” Shi said.  “The Townes Scholars program will allow Furman to extend its geographic reach across the nation and build a stronger and more diverse student body.”

The grant also benefits the university’s Asian Studies department, which consists of faculty who hold joint appointments in Economics, Religion, Philosophy, Political Science, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, and Business and Accounting.  The department recently received a $292,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to operate an intensive summer Chinese Language Institute in Suzhou, China.  In 2004, Beth and Ravenel B. Curry III gave the university $1 million to support the Chinese studies program.

“This support from the Duke Endowment ensures that Furman’s Asian Studies program will be one of the best in the country,” Shi said.  “It is critical that our students have a dynamic understanding of Asia and its increasingly important role in the international arena.”

Furman is one of four educational institutions to receive funding from The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, N.C., a private foundation established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke.  Its mission is to serve the people of North Carolina and South Carolina by supporting selected programs of higher education, health care, children’s welfare, and spiritual life.

Furman announced the public phase of the “Because Furman Matters” campaign in October of last year.  The $400 million goal is the largest ever by a private university in South Carolina as well as one of the largest by any of the nation’s liberal arts colleges.  The campaign, which has raised $268 million to date, is slated to end June 30, 2011.