The Furman University Board of Trustees has approved a number of recommendations made by the board’s Special Committee on Slavery and Justice, including removing “James C.” from James C. Furman Hall, and creating a statue and day of celebration to honor the late Joseph Vaughn was the first African-American to enroll at Furman.
The recommendations were unanimously approved by the full board at its meeting on May 18. A recording of the campus announcement event held Wednesday, May 22, may be viewed here.
The name of the university’s first president, James C. Furman, will be removed from the building located at the heart of campus, and the building will be renamed Furman Hall, in honor and celebration of the entire Furman family and all of the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have contributed to the history of the university.
The university also will erect a statue of Vaughn in a prominent, comprehensive place of celebration and reflection on campus that will help tell the story of his important contributions to Furman’s history. A student group will work with faculty and staff to create an annual Joseph Vaughn commemorative day and celebration.
The Special Committee made its recommendations to the board based on a set of recommendations that were part of the report, “Seeking Abraham,” completed by the university’s Task Force on Slavery and Justice this past summer. A number of the report’s other recommendations that fall under the purview of the administration and faculty are under consideration or being carried out.
The other recommendations approved by the board include:
- Renaming the lakeside housing area the Clark Murphy Housing Complex in honor of Clark Murphy, an African-American who worked for decades as a groundskeeper at the Greenville Woman’s College, which later merged with Furman University.
- Naming the walkway area leading up to the Bell Tower the Abraham Sims Plaza in recognition of Abraham Sims and other enslaved persons who built and worked on Furman’s various campuses prior to the university moving to its current location.
- Honoring Lillian Brock-Flemming and Sarah Reese, Furman’s first female African-American students, in a comprehensive place of celebration and reflection on campus. The university will also explore naming programs related to their fields of study and their connections to Furman and the Greenville community.
- Continuing to inventory and rank the university’s use of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles as part of its overall investment process.
- In concert with the board, president, faculty, staff and students, reviewing the university’s mission, vision, values and motto, and recommending any possible changes to the board for approval.
- In consultation and coordination with faculty, staff and alumni, providing context in markers and plaques throughout campus to honestly acknowledge the university’s history and tell a more complete and inclusive story about the people and actions that shaped Furman.
Taylor said the university will make every effort to include minority-owned businesses in carrying out the recommendations and that Furman’s chief diversity officer will track and regularly report on the progress of the recommendations. The Board of Trustees also committed to providing the lead gift for the Vaughn statue and to supporting other related projects.
“We are proud of the work done by the Special Committee and the Task Force, looking honestly at Furman’s past while considering what will best move the university forward in the future,” said Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “It is important that all students, faculty, staff and alumni see themselves in the university’s story, and that all feel welcome here.”
For more information, visit the Task Force on Slavery and Justice website.