Today we had a visit from David Shi, president of Furman University. He also spoke to the Columbia Rotary, and his topic was the same, so if you were there you heard what Mike, Warren and I heard this morning.
He was here to stress Furman’s focus on public policy-related initiatives across the state, which he said was unique (at least, to this extent) among private colleges in South Carolina, and to a certain extent nationally. He knows of no private, liberal arts college anywhere else with the statewide focus that Furman has. Among the programs to which he referred:
- The Riley Institute, named for former Gov. and Education Sec. Dick Riley, a Furman alumnus. You can read about it here. One program offered under the aegis of the Institute is the Diversity Leadership Academies across the state.
- The David Wilkins Award, named for the ex-Speaker and current ambassador to Canada, which is awarded annually for bipartisan statesmanship. John Drummond, Bobby Harrell (Wilkins’ successor) and Hugh Leatherman have all received it.
- The Rushing Center for Advanced Technology, which offers tailored training programs for businesses.
- Being a signator of The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. One cool thing related to this — a model "green" home being built on the campus for an upcoming Southern Living cover, which after that will become office and meeting space for the university’s overall green initiatives.
There was more, but you get the gist. And why go to so much trouble to engender public leadership? One reason he offered, which I thought a masterpiece of academic understatement, was because Furman is in South Carolina, which is "not really known for prolonged, high-quality public leadership."