HIGHER EDUCATION GRANTEE HIGHLIGHT

CREATING A BLUEPRINT FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

At the heart of the Furman University campus, students crisscross green lawns and manicured sidewalks, weighed down by backpacks as they head to their classes. Over the next five years, researchers will study the way these undergraduates are learning and assess if the university’s new approach to education is having its intended impact.

“We’re not only trying to prove that The Furman Advantage works, but trying to understand how it works, when it doesn’t and why,” says President Elizabeth Davis. “Are we contributing to a greater level of well-being for our graduates? This study will hold us accountable and help us work toward our goals.”

The Furman Advantage is a personalized, four-year pathway that combines traditional learning with mentoring, advising and “real-world” experiences outside the classroom. Furman guarantees every student the opportunity for engaged learning integrated with academic and professional goals. The high-impact approach is designed to prepare students for successful careers and meaningful lives.

In 2017, with a $2.5 million grant from The Duke Endowment, the university formed a partnership with Gallup to evaluate The Furman Advantage. Campus officials want to learn which mentoring tactics are particularly successful, for example, or why some students are drawn to study abroad while others aren’t. The information will guide real-time improvements, and document successes — and missteps — over the long-term.

President Davis expects the Furman study to have as broad an impact as the landmark study that Purdue University and Gallup produced in 2014, which identified the emotional support and learning experiences that are correlated with thriving in life and engagement at work. Lessons learned from studying The Furman Advantage will show effective ways to achieve those outcomes.

“This will be one of the most comprehensive and multi-faceted studies ever done in higher education,” says Brandon Busteed, Gallup’s executive director of education and workforce development. “We have strong data identifying why students thrive — this will provide a blueprint for creating the right environments for making that possible.”

Bill Barnet, chair of the Endowment’s Committee on Educational Institutions, agrees. “With a shifting landscape in higher education, Furman has made a bold commitment to change the way it prepares students for life beyond graduation, and to share best practices with the field,” he says. “Through this in-depth research, The Furman Advantage will be the case study that moves the national conversation forward.”

HIGHER EDUCATION NEWS

WORLD FOOD POLICY CENTER

After two years of fact-finding and planning, Duke University has launched the World Food Policy Center to address global food issues and problems such as malnutrition and food safety. A $5 million grant from The Duke Endowment is supporting the center, which will focus on collaborative problem solving through research, educational programming, conferences and policymaker outreach. “Our intention is to facilitate connections between researchers and change agents,” says Kelly Brownell, the director. “It is a two-way street: the needs of policymakers can guide research, and scientific findings can help policymakers make informed decisions.”

HIGHER EDUCATION

13 NEW GRANTS

$56.2MDISTRIBUTED

$29,615,000 IN NEW GRANTS APPROVED

  • Academic excellence

    $24,875,000
    8 NEW GRANTS
  • Campus and community engagement

    $3,240,000
    4 NEW GRANTS
  • Educational access and success

    $1,500,000
    1 NEW GRANT