Furman University presented a number of major awards at its annual Bell Tower Ball Saturday, Feb. 24.
The event, which took place at the TD Convention Center, celebrated the accomplishments of members of the Furman community, honoring several alumni, a corporate partner and friends of the university for their professional achievements and for generosity, service and leadership to the university and the community.
Frank Holleman ’76 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.
Following his graduation from Furman, Holleman continued his education at Harvard Law School where he was an articles editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received Harvard’s Knox Fellowship for Study in the United Kingdom and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Holleman began his career as an attorney with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham and was there for over 30 years. During this time, he served with Secretary Richard Riley as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton. He was the founding Vice Chair of First Steps to School Readiness, South Carolina’s early childhood initiative, and as a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, he advocates for the environment, working to clean up utility coal ash storage and protect the region’s water resources. At Furman, he worked with Secretary Riley to found the Riley Institute and co-chaired the institute’s first advisory committee.
Bear Rinehart ’03 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.
Rinehart is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, front man and co-founder of the Christian rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE. Frequently ranking on the charts of the Billboard 200, Christian Albums and Canadian Albums, NEEDTOBREATHE has won 10 Dove awards and earned a Grammy nomination. The group has released six critically acclaimed albums and their extensive tours include collaborations with Taylor Swift, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and appearances on major television programs including The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman and Conan. Rinehart was also an All-Southern Conference wide receiver for the Furman football team and received the Greenville Touchdown Club’s Banks McFadden South Carolina Player of the Year Award his senior season.
Madeline Rogero ’79 was presented with the Gordon L. Blackwell Alumni Service Award, which honors an individual who has dedicated extraordinary service to the greater community.
In 2011, Rogero was the first woman to be elected Mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee and she was re-elected for a second term in 2015. Rogero currently serves on the advisory board for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is chair of the advisory board of the Smart Growth America Local Leaders Council. She previously served on President Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and also on Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Task Force on Aging.
Piedmont Natural Gas received the University Partnership Award, which honors an organization or individual who has worked in conjunction with Furman University to meaningfully contribute to the local or broader community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship and working for the betterment of society.
Piedmont Natural Gas supplies natural gas to the Carolinas and Tennessee, and enriches its communities by investing in programs that support local economic and social vitality. As part of Piedmont’s commitment to energy assistance programs, they have partnered with Furman’s Community Conservation Corps, a home weatherization program for low-income families. Since the program’s inception, Piedmont has provided nearly $500,000 in funding, helping more than 100 low-income homeowners reduce their energy consumption and lower their energy bills.
Kathy McKinney 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. McKinney, a shareholder at the law firm Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., is a former member of Furman’s Board of Trustees and served as chair from 2008-2010. She has also led the President’s Advisory Council and served on the Because Furman Matters Campaign Executive Committee.
Chris Borch ’78 received the Wayne and Rubye Reid Award, which recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students. Borch, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Micro-Mechanics, Inc., frequently speaks to Furman students in the Business Block and other business courses and also helped facilitate a May Experience course through the business and accounting department. During the May Experience, students traveled to Malaysia to study the business practices and economies of Southeast Asia and while they were there had the opportunity to meet and network with the management team and board of Micro-Mechanics.
John and Ellen Yates were presented the Engaged Parent Award, which honors the parents of a Furman student or graduate in appreciation for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers. The Yateses have served on the Parents Council, as co-chairs of the Parents Campaign Committee, established the Yates Family Scholarship and supported the Shucker Leadership Program.
For more information, contact Rebecca Bilott, associate director of development communications, at 864-294-3489 and firstname.lastname@example.org.