Furman celebrates award recipients at the 2022 Bell Tower BallFebruary 14, 2022
Furman University presented a number of major awards at its annual Bell Tower Ball Saturday, Feb. 12.
The event, which took place at the Greenville Convention Center, celebrated the accomplishments of members of the Furman community. Several alumni, a community partner and friends of the university were honored for their professional achievements and for their generosity, service and leadership to the university and community.
Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award
Ravenel Curry ’63
Presented in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman University.
Ravenel Curry is a distinguished businessman and philanthropist. He is a visionary leader known for his intellectual curiosity and believes in being a lifelong learner. In 1988 Ravenel co-founded, with his late wife Beth Rivers Curry, Eagle Capital Management, a $32 billion investment firm. He began his investment career as a security analyst at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, was a partner at H.C. Wainwright and a Portfolio Manager of the Duke Endowment. Through the Beth and Ravenel Curry Foundation, established in 1974, the family continues to make transformational gifts to many organizations aligned with the long-held values including higher education, free markets, historic preservation and education reform.
Ravenel serves as a trustee of The Duke Endowment, American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute, New York Hall of Science, New York Historical Society, South Carolina Genetics Endowment, and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as chair of the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority and as a member of Hudson Institute’s Chairman’s Advisory Board. In 2017 the Manhattan Institute awarded him the Alexander Hamilton Award, created to honor those individuals helping to foster the revitalization of our nation’s cities. It also celebrates leaders who have made remarkable contributions in the realms of public policy, culture, and philanthropy.
Ravenel graduated from Furman with a degree in political science in 1963, was active with ROTC and a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member. He earned an MBA from the University of Virginia in 1967. He was a multi-term Furman Trustee, chaired the Investment Committee, and served as President of the Alumni Board. He and, his late wife Beth, were among the first inductees into Furman’s Benefactors Circle. A significant gift from their foundation in 2004 enabled the Chinese Studies program to surge forward and remains one of the most popular study away programs at Furman. Ravenel is an avid fan of Furman basketball and football.
A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, he now lives in New York City with his wife, Jane Moss, and his three children – Ravenel Boykin Curry IV, Caroline Rivers Curry (Rob Davis), and Marshall Anderson Curry (Elizabeth Martin); and seven grandchildren, Ravenel V, Zinnia, Wick, Jackson, Quinton, Jane and Rivers.
Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Sali Christeson ’07
Recognizes an alumnus who graduated in the past 20 years and who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments or as a volunteer.
Sali Christeson is the founder and CEO of Argent, a brand that is redefining women’s fashion in the corporate workplace with comfortable, functional and fashionable workwear. Founded in 2016, and named after her great grandfather’s 1900s lumber company, Argent has locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
She spent years in the finance and tech industries after starting her career in private banking in Chicago. She worked for Cisco Systems, Johnson & Johnson and Daimler Financial Services (in Berlin). Sali grew frustrated with the lack of stylish and functional workwear offered to women and set out to fill this gap by creating clothing that would enable any wearer to feel comfortable and confident. She now leads a team of 12 people split between both coasts. The brand has been featured in InStyle and Vogue Business and on Yahoo Finance and CNN. Argent’s pieces have been worn by powerful women across a variety of industries including politicians and entertainers.
Sali earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Furman in 2007 and was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. She also earned an international MBA from the University of South Carolina in 2012. Sali and her husband, David Christeson, live in New York City and have two children, Charlie and Ruth.
Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award
Idella Glenn ’84
Recognizes an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to Furman or the greater community, advancing the university’s position as a private institution with a public mission.
Idella Glenn is associate vice president for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact at the University of Southern Maine. Previously, she served as special advisor on Inclusivity and Diversity at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
Idella is a collaborative leader with 29 years of higher education experience – the last 24 years focused on leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, including positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Furman University, and Spartanburg Community College. She has earned designation as a Certified Diversity Professional through the Institute for Diversity Certification and is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She is also a graduate of The Riley Institute Diversity Leaders Initiative.
Idella is a member of the National Coalition Building Institute Board of Directors and a senior trainer with the NCBI Carolina Coalition. She served on the National Advisory Council of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity. She also served as president of the South Carolina Professional Association for Access and Equity from 2002-2004 and is a graduate of Leadership Greenville.
A member of the Furman Class of 1984, Idella graduated with a Bachelor of Science in computer science and mathematics. She continued her education at the University of South Carolina where she earned a master’s in higher education administration in 1996, and at Clemson University, where she earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership in 2008. Idella and her husband, Michael Glenn ’82, have two daughters, Septima and Natalie.
University Partnership Award
City of Greenville
Presented to an organization or individual who has worked in conjunction with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.
Honorary Alumni Award
Commends individuals who are not Furman graduates but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige and pursuit of excellence.
Nancy Cooper has been a beloved member of the Furman community for over 30 years, serving as the coordinator of volunteer services for Heller Service Corps. Known affectionately as Miss Nancy, her passion and kindness have inspired countless students. She embodies the mission of Heller, to foster relationships and cultivate a spirit of giving, and has helped grow the organization from six students to 1,200.
A sense of belongingness is key to student success. Nancy not only mentors and advises students daily, but she helps make Furman a home away from home. She creates an environment not only in the Heller office, but throughout the Trone Student Center and especially at student and family campus events, where she ensures that all feel welcomed and valued. She lives Furman’s person-centered mission by connecting students with over 60 agencies, non-profit organizations and schools in Greenville County. These experiences give students depth and breadth in preparing them for a world beyond themselves.
In 2002, the Student Alumni Council honored Nancy with the Chiles-Harrill Award, which recognizes a member of the faculty or staff who has made substantial contributions to the lives of students. Through her devotion to students and her diligent work, she continues to make a positive impact on Furman and the Greenville community.
Wayne and Rubye Reid Award
Jackson Buonamia ’17
Recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students.
Jackson joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch in 2017 following graduation. He began as a high yield credit trading analyst and now serves as an investment banking associate. In the spring and summer of 2015, he interned with Bank of America. Jackson successfully balanced the high pressure demands of developing his career and performing as a student-athlete. He now shares his experience and knowledge with Furman students.
Jackson has gone above and beyond for students, opening doors and making useful connections within the competitive finance world in New York City. His service to Furman includes mentoring, advising and networking, often with business majors and athletes. He also participates in formal programming events through the Malone Center for Career Engagement, such as career treks and webinars. Jackson has also volunteered as a guest speaker and panelist. He remains close to the Investment Club and helps student navigate opportunities in the finance industry.
Jackson graduated from Furman in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in economics. He was a student-athlete on the football team and participated in the Furman Investment Club and Furman Economic Society. He and his wife, Jennifer Buonamia, live in New York City.
Engaged Parent Award
Dan and Emilyn Sanders
Presented to the parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers.
Dan and Emilyn Sanders have a tradition of service to Furman University where their two sons, Dan Jr. ’86 and John ’88, daughter-in-law Suzanne ’88, and grandchildren, Will ’19 and Dan ’16, graduated. They are former chairs of Parent & Family Council and served on the President’s Advisory Council as well as the executive committee of the Richard Furman Society. Both Dan and Emily serve as emeritus members of the Furman Board of Trustees, and the Townes Science Center library is named for the Sanders family. They are also loyal supporters of Bridges to a Brighter Future, The Riley Institute and the Partners Program.
A native of Elberton, Georgia, Dan earned his engineering degree magna cum laude at the University of South Carolina. Emilyn, a Greenville native, is a graduate of the University of Houston. She did graduate work at the University of Houston School of Social Work and at the New York School of Interior Design.
Dan is the former president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, the former chairman of the American Chemical Council, and the former chairman of the Society of Chemical Industry. He was awarded the Chemical Industry Medal for his contributions to applied chemistry in 2005. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. He previously served on the Board of Directors at Celanese Corporation, Milliken & Company, Nalco Company, Pacolet Milliken Company, Ecolab Corporation, and Arch Chemical Company.
Emilyn remains on the Board of Trustees of the Upcountry History Museum, where she is dedicated to the American History Book Club, which she founded in 2008. She is also president of the South Carolina Historical Society and a member of the board of trustees for the Greenville Museum of Art, Community Foundation, Upstate Independent Film Society, and the Metropolitan Council.