David Shi, Furman president


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."

4 thoughts on “David Shi, Furman president

  1. Mandy

    Mr. Warthen, I was really excited to see that you had a post about Dr. Shi. I’m a junior at Furman, and we love our president. I’m sure you got to know to some degree why we think that since you got to talk to him in person.
    I’m from Columbia, and for the past few months I’ve been keeping up with your blog pretty regularly. I sometimes find myself reading your blog when I should be doing schoolwork…but oh well. It’s important to keep up with real life.
    Anyway, thanks for being fair, sensible, amusing, interesting, and relevant.
    And in case you were wondering, I’m planning on certifying to teach high school math. South Carolina public education is one of my passions, and that’s what got me interested in your editorials in the paper when I was in high school. Thanks for standing up against those who don’t realize the importance of public education.
    (Now I really should do some schoolwork)


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