Furman University held its annual Bell Tower Ball at the TD Convention Center on Feb. 24. The event celebrated the accomplishments of the members of the Furman community, honoring several alumni, a corporate partner, and friends of the university for their professional achievements as well as generosity, service, and leadership to the university.
The Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes significant professional or personal accomplishments and continued loyalty to Furman University, was given to Frank Holleman, class of 1976.
Holleman, a graduate of Harvard Law School, was the founding vice chair of First Steps to School Readiness, South Carolina’s early childhood initiative. As a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, he works to clean up utility coal ash storage and protect the region’s water sources. He co-founded Furman’s Riley Institute with Richard Riley and was a co-chair of the institute’s first advisory committee.
The Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which honors an alumnus from the last 15 years who has brought honor or recognition to Furman through individual accomplishments, was given to Bear Rinehart, class of 2003. Rinehart is the co-founder of the popular Christian rock band NEEDTOBREATHE.
Madeline Rogero, a 1979 graduate, 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, Tenn., and she currently serves on the advisory board for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. She is also a chairwoman of the advisory board of the Smart Growth America Local Leaders Council.
Piedmont Natural Gas received the University Partnership Award, which recognizes an organization or individual who has worked with the university to contribute to the community by engaging citizens, promoting public scholarship, and working for the betterment of society. Through a commitment to energy assistance programs, Piedmont Natural Gas has partnered with Furman’s Community Conservation Corps, a home weatherization program for low-income families. Piedmont has contributed nearly $500,000 in funding since the program began.
Kathy McKinney was presented with the Honorary Alumni Award, which commends individuals who are not graduates of Furman University but who have made significant contributions to its welfare, reputation, prestige, and pursuit of excellence. McKinney, a shareholder at Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., is a former member of the university’s board of trustees and served as its chairwoman from 2008-2010. She previously led the president’s advisory council and served on the executive committee of the Because Furman Matters Campaign.
Chris Borch, class of 1987, received the Wayne and Rubye Reid Award, which recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the career development of Furman students. Borch, founder and CEO of Micro-Mechanics Inc., frequently speaks to Furman students in the Business Block and other business courses.
John and Ellen Yates received the Engaged Parent Award, which honors the parents of a Furman student or graduate for their commitment to education and leadership as volunteers. The Yateses have served on the parents council and as co-chairs of the parents campaign committee. The couple established the Yates Family Scholarship and also supported the Shucker Leadership Program.