Furman University’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee has announced the recipients of the university’s inaugural Meritorious Diversity and Inclusion awards. The awards are given to a current Furman faculty member, staff member and student. The recipients have demonstrated an emerging or sustained commitment to advance Furman’s value of diversity and inclusion, and multiculturalism on campus.
The honorees are Dr. Steve O’Neill, professor of history; Carol Hagood, assistant director at the Furman Center for Academic Success; and 2016 Furman graduate Liza Veilleux of Charlotte, N.C. They will be formally recognized during Furman’s Fall Convocation, which takes place in September.
Steve O’Neill joined the Furman faculty in 1987. As co-chair of Furman University’s 50 Year Celebration of Desegregation, O’Neill recovered the history of desegregation at Furman and presented it to the university and community. His work served as a catalyst for Furman’s ongoing efforts to study diversity and bring greater racial justice on campus.
O’Neill extended his research interests to Furman students who conducted independent studies on civil rights and desegregation. He also taught about the subject in a class for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
O’Neill has served as a panel member, organizer and speaker for numerous events related to civil rights including “An Evening With Harvey Gantt” (Gantt was the first black student to attend Clemson University); Desegregation and Athletics at Furman; and the Joe Vaughn Scholarship Gala and Fundraiser (Vaughn was the first black student to attend Furman).
Among other works, O’Neill has authored “Fifty Years: Commemorating Desegregation at Furman 1965-2015,” “Biography of Francis Bonner,” and a book chapter honoring civil rights activist and scholar Paul Gaston entitled, “Freedom of Choice, Grace and Style and other Misnomers in Greenville’s Long Ordeal of School Desegregation.”
His community outreach activities include working with at-risk students in the Bridges to a Brighter Future program; serving as a visiting history teacher at Lead Middle School where he taught about South Carolina slavery; speaking in numerous Upcountry History Museum forums; and weighing in on civil rights issues for the news media.
A member of Furman’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee, O’Neill is described as one who “synthesizes his commitment to diversity and race relations in every aspect of his professional and personal life.”
Carol Hagood came to Furman in 2001. As Assistant Director at Furman’s Center for Academic Success, Hagood has promoted recruitment and retention of a diverse student body through her freshman orientation activities, participation in recruitment activities including Furman accepted student days, visits with parents and prospective students, and through her work advising and counseling students.
Hagood’s role as advisor to the Furman University Gospel Ensemble (FUGE) has also fostered diversity at Furman. She recently coordinated the annual service tour for FUGE and has done so for many years. This year’s service at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston was especially poignant following the shootings that took place there in 2015. FUGE sang for the church services and reception attended by AME members and invited Furman alumni.
Hagood advises the Executive Committee and Chair of FUGE, attends rehearsals and choir engagements, and coordinates Cultural Life Program approval for three yearly FUGE concerts.
Hagood served three years as facilitator for the National Coalition Building Institute through which participants become aware of misinformation about particular groups and learn to break down barriers between groups. As part of NCBI at Furman, she facilitated diversity workshops with many groups including resident assistants, students, faculty and community groups. She also served on Furman’s Diversity Committee 2010-2012.
In the community, Hagood serves as a church administrator. As part of her role she coordinates outreach events to the area’s less fortunate population. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she speaks to event participants with a sermon of hope, love and encouragement. Those who nominated her for the award describe her as a “wonderful advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion of underrepresented groups.”
History and secondary education major Liza Veilleux has laid the groundwork to lead future students in intentional, open discussion about inclusivity and acceptance. Upon her arrival at Furman, Veilleux expressed her interest in building interfaith dialogue on campus. Her passion led her to spearhead Furman’s Interfaith Youth Core, an organization committed to fostering interfaith understanding, dialogue, and relationships.
Says Furman Chaplain Maria Swearingen, “She truly believes that our social, religious, and cultural differences actually enrich us as a community, and she has given tireless energy and attention to that vision her entire tenure at Furman.”
Earlier this year, the Shucker Center for Leadership Development and Division of Student Life presented Veilleux the Rosa Mary Bodkin Award, which recognizes a student who has encouraged meaningful dialogue among diverse groups and provided leadership in activities and programs which promote understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the many dimensions of diversity.
At Furman, Veilleux worked as a first-year resident assistant where she mentored 20 female students in areas of academic and personal development.
Previously, Veilleux interned at a primary school where she taught academics, music and dance. She also served as a tutor for elementary school-age children for whom English is a second language. In her local community of Charlotte, Veilleux assisted with youth programs for Mecklenburg Ministries and Harris YMCA. She also volunteered her time with the Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network, First Baptist Greenville as a choir member, and Park Road Baptist Church as a VBS leader.
She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma honors fraternity for overall academic achievement, and Kappa Delta Pi education honors fraternity.
For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.