The Duke Endowment has awarded Furman University a $2 million grant that will enrich the university’s fine arts program and strengthen its ties to the Greenville community in the process.
The Duke Endowment grant will help fund a new initiative to enhance and expand the university’s programs in music, art and theatre, including a collaborative partnership with the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Greenville.
The $2 million grant is the largest single gift directed toward the fine arts division programming in Furman’s history.
According to Furman president Rod Smolla, the Furman Fine Arts Initiative will benefit both Furman students and faculty as well as bring more of the university’s academic and cultural opportunities into the surrounding community. The departments of Art, Music, and Theatre Arts comprise Furman’s fine arts program.
“Furman has an extraordinary reputation in fine arts education, and The Duke Endowment grant allows us to build on that strength,” Smolla said. “The new programming and collaboration with a world-class performing arts center will truly enrich our students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences. We also expect it will attract more prospective students to our fine arts programs. I’m enormously grateful for the Duke Endowment’s recognition of the project’s potential and for the faculty at Furman who will develop and nurture these programs.”
Minor Shaw, a Trustee of The Duke Endowment and chair of the Endowment’s Committee on Educational Institutions, said the grant is an affirmation of president Smolla’s strategic direction.
“The Duke Endowment is pleased to support these efforts to create new opportunities for students and faculty, and to help the university strengthen its ties to the Greenville community,” she said. “Through this Fine Arts initiative, we believe the Furman experience will become even richer.”
While Furman’s collaboration with the Peace Center is still in the planning stages, Furman officials expect all three fine arts departments to have a significant presence there. Opportunities include select Furman performances and art exhibits at Peace Center venues, master classes with visiting Peace Center artists, student internships, arts administration training and development, and educational outreach programs.
“We will also look into the possibility of a dedicated Furman venue at the Peace Center where we could host an array of university events that would appeal to the community,” said John Beckford, vice president for academic affairs and dean. “We are anxious to get to work and get the fine arts initiative underway.”
President Smolla said, “Furman’s core mission is to not only strengthen its academic program, but to participate in the life of the communities that surround it. A vibrant partnership with the Peace Center perfectly aligns these values.”
The Duke Endowment, a private foundation in Charlotte, N.C., seeks to enrich lives and communities in North Carolina and South Carolina through its work with children, health care, higher education and rural churches. Since its founding in 1924, the Endowment has awarded more than $2.8 billion in grants
Furman is one of four educational institutions that receive annual financial support from the Endowment. The others are Davidson College, Duke University and Johnson C. Smith University.
For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107. The website for the Peace Center for the Performing Arts can be found here.