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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Leadership Accomplishment

Mar 12, 2024 12:12PM ● By Donna Walker

Furman President Receives Contract Extension Through 2030

(Furman Photo: President Elizabeth Davis speaks during Opening Convocation at McAlister Auditorium on Aug. 21, 2023.)


By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy


Citing leadership accomplishments over a 10-year tenure, the Furman University Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for President Elizabeth Davis through 2030, with an option to add two more years, the university announced March 6, 2024.


With the extension through 2030, Davis would become only the seventh president to serve Furman 15 years or more.


“Under President Davis’ leadership and direction, Furman has reached new heights of excellence,” said Board Chair Kevin Byrne. “From her dedication to innovative learning to her commitment to free expression and civil discourse, Elizabeth has transformed Furman’s campus and set the standard for other top liberal arts colleges to follow."


Byrne added, "The Board is unanimously confident in her ability to provide Furman with exceptional executive leadership at a time when it is needed most in higher education.”


Davis became Furman’s 12th president in 2014.


Under her leadership, the university has instituted The Furman Advantage, a distinctive vision for higher education that combines learning with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers and community benefit.


The groundbreaking effort, which was launched in 2016, has received more than $78.9 million in support from The Duke Endowment, including a Centennial grant from the foundation this year.


“I am deeply grateful for the continued trust and support of the Furman Board of Trustees,” Davis said. “It is an honor to lead Furman, and I am excited about the opportunity to continue serving this remarkable institution for many years to come.”


During Davis’ tenure, Furman also launched the Pathways Program, a dedicated two-year advising course undergirding The Furman Advantage that prepares students for college and ensures they take full advantage of all that Furman offers.


This past April, Furman publicly launched Clearly Furman, the most ambitious campaign in the university’s history. 


To date, the campaign has raised more than $392 million toward a goal of $426 million by 2026, Furman’s bicentennial.


This April the university will break ground on a donor-funded $40 million renovation of Timmons Arena, the largest capital project in the campaign.


Since Davis arrived, Furman has moved from outside the top 50 to as high as No. 45 in the U.S. News & World Report best colleges rankings.


Following the launch of The Furman Advantage, the university was voted a “Most Innovative School” among National Liberal Arts Colleges six years in a row.


This year, peers ranked Pathways among the top 20 “Best First-Year Experiences” among all universities.


Recently, Davis launched On Discourse to promote free, open, healthy and constructive dialogue on campus. The initiative aims to teach students and others how to engage people with differing ideas, to look for common ground, and to understand that disagreement is not disapproval.


The commitment was reiterated in the university’s Statement on Freedom of Inquiry and Expression, which was endorsed by the faculty and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in February.


Davis has spoken throughout the U.S. on issues involving higher education, university leadership and financial management.


She has been quoted in national media, written op-eds for a number of publications, and done many interviews on radio and television on the subject of higher education.


Before coming to Furman, Davis spent 22 years at Baylor University in Texas, where she last held the position of executive vice president and provost.


In addition to being a member of the accounting faculty at Baylor, she also served as vice provost for Financial and Academic Administration, associate dean for Undergraduate Business Programs, and acting chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Law.


Davis received her bachelor’s degree from Baylor and earned her Ph.D. from Duke University.

SC Launch Inc. Announces Second Investment in GoodUnited

South Carolina Research Authority’s investment affiliate, SC Launch Inc., has invested $300,000 in GoodUnited. 


The Charleston-based company is a leader in one-to-one conversational messaging between nonprofits and donors. 


GoodUnited became an SCRA Member Company in 2019 and successfully matured through the SC Launch program, receiving a $50,000 Acceleration Grant and becoming an SC Launch Inc. Portfolio Company when it received its first investment of $200,000.


“The GoodUnited team lives out their mission of transforming how nonprofits engage supporters by humanizing, personalizing, and revolutionizing social media fundraising,” said SCRA Investment Manager Derek Willis.


Willis added, “Their software aims to provide actional ways for nonprofits to deepen donor connections, which increases social media giving.” 


Since 2015, GoodUnited has grown its customer base to include national nonprofits, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and Make-A-Wish.


They were recently added to G2’s ‘fundraising software category.’


G2 is a popular software review platform that rates and reviews various software products based on user feedback.

Graham Announces Highlights of South Carolina Projects in First FY 2024 Spending Package

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) announced March 9, 2024, that multiple projects across South Carolina will receive funding as a part of the first Fiscal Year 2024 spending package.


Graham made these funding requests to the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member.


South Carolina projects that will receive funding from the first package are:


Aiken (city): $3 million for Croft Mill sewer basin improvements.

Anderson (county): $5 million to modernize the I-85 interchange.

Berkley, Calhoun, Dorchester and Orangeburg Counties: $23.8 million to Lakes Marion and Moultrie for water infrastructure expansion.

Bluffton: $1.34 million for law enforcement equipment.

Cayce: $540,000 for a pump station.

Charleston (city): $25 million to Charleston Harbor for the deepening project reimbursement.

Charleston (county): $23 million to the Charleston County Aviation Authority for parking aprons.

Charleston (city): $6.5 million to construct the Joint Base Charleston’s National Guard Readiness Center.

Cheraw: $4.4 million for water treatment plant construction.

Chester (county): $10 million to Chester County Wastewater Recovery for wastewater improvement.

Clemson University: $7 million to the Livestock Poultry Health’s Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

Columbia: $575,000 for a water main replacement.

Columbia: $10 million to eliminate rail crossings on Assembly Street.

Columbia: $101 million to Fort Jackson for phase two of the Reception Barracks Complex construction project.

Florence (city): $5 million for water treatment plant expansion and upgrades.

Georgetown (city): $6.5 million for the Georgetown Harbor deepening.

Greenville (city): $10 million to the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center for taxiway improvements.

Greenwood (county): $900,000 for a 911 technology upgrade for the County Sheriff’s Office.

Lancaster (county): $770,000 for law enforcement vehicles for the County Sheriff’s Office.

Newberry (city): $88,000 for improved law enforcement technology and equipment.

Richland County: $1 million to Richland County Sheriff’s Department for a unified command post.

Rock Hill: $1.2 million to the city of Rock Hill for wastewater discharge.

Spartanburg (county): $10 million to Startex-Jackson-Wellford Duncan water district for water storage.

Sumter (city): Funds for the purchase of 4 Narcotics Analyzers.

University of South Carolina: $4.5 million for semiconductor manufacturing.

University of South Carolina: $10 million to the ROTC facility.

New USC VP of Economic Development

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees named USC College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen Cutler as the new vice president of Economic Development.


Cutler will oversee the Office of Economic Engagement while leading systemwide economic development strategies.


“I selected Steve for his successful track record in research and economic development, his years of relevant leadership experience, including the interim provost position, his commitment to being a visible leader, and his demonstrated ability to innovate,” USC President Michael Amiridis said.


Cutler, who joined USC in 2016 and is the author or co-author of 50 patents, will also remain the pharmacy dean while leading the university’s efforts to partner with private industry, drive workforce development and contribute to the state’s economic development strategy.


“I am deeply honored to serve as the USC vice president for Economic Development and am dedicated to advancing our university's mission,” said Cutler. “Together, we will foster innovation, forge strategic partnerships, and drive economic growth, propelling our institution to new heights of excellence."


Cutler earned his bachelor’s degree in 1984 and his Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of Georgia.


He has been a pharmacy educator for more than 30 years having served at the schools of pharmacy for Ohio Northern University, Mercer University, the University of Mississippi and the University of South Carolina.


During that time, he received 10 teaching awards and recognitions from various classes of students.


During his career, Cutler has received more than $40,000,000 from various federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DoD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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