$1 million for Study Away scholarships

May 21, 2013 | Vince Moore

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GREENVILLE, S.C.—Furman University has received a $1 million commitment that will provide need-based scholarships for students participating in the university’s Study Away program.

The pledge was made by David and Leighan Rinker of Atlantis, Fla., who have been generous donors to Furman for more than 25 years.  The program will now be named the David and Leighan Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education.

“This is a transformative gift that will greatly enhance the vitality and academic quality of our faculty-led travel study programs,” said Dr. John Beckford, Furman’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean.  “The Rinkers’ generous commitment will allow even more Furman students to take advantage of an exciting array of study away programs, both in the U.S. and abroad. It will also encourage our faculty to continue exploring possibilities for new travel programs.”

Furman’s Study Away opportunities range from intensive, three-week May Experience courses to semester or year-long programs in the U.S. and throughout the world.  Furman currently offers programs in 37 countries, and approximately 45 percent of Furman students participate in Study Away programs during their time at the university.

“We have always loved the words of St. Augustine, who said, ‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,’” said David and Leighan Rinker.  “It was our desire to help create an entire ‘library’ of books that Furman students could experience.”

The Rinkers are founders of Furman’s Partners Scholarship program, and are members of the Benefactors Circle.  They are also former members of the Parents Council, and three of the couple’s four children, a son-in-law, and daughter-in-law are graduates of Furman.

Leighan Rinker has served multiple terms on the Furman Board of Trustees, including a term as chair.  A strong advocate of early childhood education, she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned M.Ed., Ed.S. and Ed.D. degrees at Florida Atlantic University, where she received the Professional and Human Services Outstanding Graduate Student Award.  She received an honorary doctorate from Furman in 2004.

David Rinker is chairman of the Marshall E. Rinker, Sr., Foundation, Inc., in Atlantis, Fla.  He has supported travel study programs at numerous other colleges, including Stetson University, his alma mater. He has served on Stetson’s Board of Trustees since 1987, including two terms as chair, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the university in 2007.  He holds an Ed.D. in Education Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107 or visit the Furman website.