Nearly 700 guests attended Furman’s Bell Tower Ball Saturday, an annual gala that honors the university’s alumni and friends for their generosity, leadership, and support.
The formal affair, hosted by President Elizabeth Davis and Dr. Charles Davis at the TD Convention Center, included a wine reception, seated dinner, dancing and live music.
During a post-dinner program, seven awards were presented to recognize alumni, parents and friends of the university for their accomplishments. Honorees included David Trone ’77, an entrepreneur and Owner and President of Total Wine & More, Clint Dempsey ’05, one of the greatest American soccer players of all-time, and Robin McGary Herrnstein ’98, who has helped to provide healthcare access to tens of thousands of impoverished people. ScanSource Inc., Brad Merkl’ 86, William and Carroll Flowers, and Paul Scarpa also took home awards in recognition of their service to the university and community.
“This event—with its gathering of distinguished alumni and friends, recognition of groups and individuals who have set the standard for excellence, and celebration of all that makes Furman a university unlike any other—is a highlight of our year, and Charles and I are honored to join you,” said President Davis.
Visit our site for more about the award recipients of the Bell Tower Ball.
David Trone ‘77 received the Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award, which is awarded annually in recognition of significant professional or personal accomplishments and in gratitude for continued loyalty to Furman. The Owner and President of Total Wine & More, Trone launched the company in 1991 with his brother, Robert. Today, the company operates 150 retail stores in 21 states, has $2.5 billion in yearly sales and is the largest independent retailer of wine, spirits and beer in the country. At Furman, Trone has been a philanthropic, cultural, and educational leader. With a principal gift to establish the Trone Student Center and major support of the Riley Institute, he was also instrumental in establishing the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs. As a former Trustee, member of the Parents Council, and the Parents Campaign Committee, he has played an active role in helping Furman set and achieve goals to benefit students and alumni for years to come.
Clint Dempsey ’05 was awarded the Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes an alumnus from the last 15 years who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments. Dempsey is recognized as one of the greatest American soccer players of all time. Dempsey spent three seasons at Furman, during which he garnered National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American honors and helped lead the Paladins to one of its highest national rankings in the program’s history. He has enjoyed an illustrious professional career and has been a member of the U.S. National Team where he participated in four Gold Cups, winning two, and three FIFA World Cups. Dempsey scored goals in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup competitions, becoming the first American male to score in three World Cups.
Robin McGary Herrnstein ’98 was presented with the Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award, which honors an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to the greater community. Herrnstein is the co-founder of PIVOT, an organization dedicated to bringing quality and accessible health care to those in need. In the remote region of Madagascar where PIVOT works, one in six children dies before reaching the age of five, and 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. To date, PIVOT has provided care for more than 67,000 patients. The organization works to spread the global health movement, but it is also committed to integrating healthcare with a broader agenda for sustainable development.
ScanSource, Inc. was presented the University Partnership Award, which honors an organization or individual who has worked in conjunction with Furman to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society. ScanSource employees are engaged in a myriad of ways across campus, with service that includes speaking to prospective students and families, attending career fairs, presenting to the Business Block and participating in Furman’s mock interview program. ScanSource has been instrumental in the development of Furman’s Bridges to a Brighter Future program and also supports the Spring Break College Tour and the summer internship program.
Brad Merkl ’86 was presented with the Wayne and Rubye Reid Award, which recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students. Merkl is president and owner of the Atlanta-based Metropolitan Companies, and his considerable service to Furman includes membership in the Furman Football Players Association and a term as Atlanta’s Young Alumni Director. For 15 years, Merkl has offered himself as a mentor and advisor to fellow Furman alumni. He has contributed to the professional success of others through resume consulting, interview coaching, and practice sales calls.
William and Carroll Flowers were presented the Engaged Parent Award, which is presented to the parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers. The Flowers’ four children attended Furman. Throughout their time as Furman parents, William and Carroll have been active members of the parents council. They are also long-standing members of the Richard Furman Society and are loyal ambassadors for Furman admissions.
Paul Scarpa was presented the Honorary Alumni Award, which commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige, and pursuit of excellence. Scarpa became Furman’s men’s tennis coach in 1967 and remained at the helm for 45 seasons, during which he became the winningest NCAA Division I tennis coach in America. He led his Furman teams to 853 victories, 17 Southern Conference championships and 14 league tournament championships.
Photography by David Poleski