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13/012 Furman Hall Renovation: Humanities Faculty Initiative Papers, 1999-2004

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Historical Note

The need for renovation of Furman Hall, the oldest and most heavily used academic building on campus, was included in President Johns’ 1989 strategic plan.  In May 1998, Trustees approved an architect for the project. The Furman Hall Renovation Steering Committee was appointed in September 1998, chaired by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean A. V. Huff.  Its membership included the chairs of each department housed in the building and Mary Pat Crozier, Furman’s Capital Construction Manager. The committee first met in September 1998, its purpose ostensibly to involve the faculty’s ideas in the renovation.  Meetings, however, were infrequent, with little or no continuity or follow-through between them and no minutes recorded. 

By January 2000, the project of the Steering Committee’s advising in the renovation being moribund, faculty of the affected departments being discouraged, and the Dean having made clear that he did not want interdepartmental meetings on the subject without his presence, Duncan McArthur suggested to Stanley Crowe, English Department chair, that a different approach be tried: that the faculty itself, via their departments and without interdepartmental meetings, decide what the renovation should entail and send that statement to the Steering Committee, President, and Trustees. Crowe assented and began a process that is the subject of these papers: “Furman Hall Renovation: Humanities Faculty Initiative.”

On May 23, 2000, a memorandum endorsed by every member of the Humanities Faculty was sent to the Steering Committee, President, and others, describing and providing an educational rationale for what the Humanities needed in the coming years. The President rebuffed or ignored several requests to discuss it with three members of the Humanities faculty, and Dean Huff called no meetings of the Steering Committee for the next 20 months. Another faculty memorandum, providing more specific details, followed. When the Steering Committee finally met, a new plan was presented that wholly ignored the Humanities Faculty’s memoranda. Other faculty efforts followed, and most were also ignored. In February 2003 administrators reported to the Trustee’s Committee on Grounds and Buildings that “the faculty approved schematic design plans in December 2002.” Learning of this inaccurate report, Stanley Crowe, at the April 2003 Faculty Meeting, introduced a resolution that the Faculty direct its Chair to inform the Board of Trustees, in writing, that the statement made to their committee on Grounds and Buildings in February was inaccurate.  Vice President for Business Affairs Wendy Libby and Dean Huff defended the Steering Committee’s process as normal. Crowe responded, after which the Faculty approved Crowe’s resolution.

Given the significance of the renovation of Furman Hall for the future of the Humanities at Furman and the demoralization among Humanities Faculty resulting from Dean Huff’s handling of the Steering Committee and President Shi’s and Trustee Chair-Elect Leighan Rinker’s refusal to discuss the faculty’s ideas, Crowe, in August 2003, in order to establish a written record of what happened, wrote a detailed account of the process and shared it with President Shi.

– Duncan McArthur and Stanley Crowe