This May will mark the departure of greatly admired professor and liaison (both Faculty Sustainability Liaison and Academic Facilities Liaison), Dr. Frank Powell, from Furman University. Having begun his career as a Health and Exercise Science professor 37 years ago, Dr. Powell has since expanded his influence to transforming Furman’s sustainable future, and has proven to be one of Furman’s most dedicated proponents of the green movement.
Dr. Powell has initiated and supported numerous environmental efforts including, but not limited to, spearheading the construction of Furman’s first environmentally-conscious building (the Eco-Cottage), being involved with the design and construction of the LEED certified buildings, Hipp Hall and the Townes Science Center, and most recently, acted as the “sustainability conscience” of the design and building of the Shi Center for Sustainability (then the Cliffs Cottage) and was a major contributor to both its successful completion in 2009 and its being certified a LEED gold building. Dr. Powell’s positive impact has been observed not only in this capacity, but in the classroom, as well. He has incorporated sustainability themes into all of his curriculum, whether it be in his health, nutrition, or environmental courses, was a strong advocate for the education of students residing in the Eco-Cottage surrounding sustainable living practices after its retrofit, taught an Environment and Society class for three years (the first of its kind at Furman), taught a Renewable Energy first year seminar, and perhaps most notably, instituted and led study away programs to Chile during which participants evaluated the relationship of public health to the environment and planetary wellness. These accomplishments are no small feat, and they have provided Furman the necessary stepping stones it’s needed to become one of the nation’s leaders in campus sustainability. For his efforts, Dr. Powell was awarded the designation of being the first Environmental Fellow of the Associated Colleges of the South in 1998, has received the Leadership and Education Award from the USGBC SC chapter, and most recently received the Sustainable Communities Champion Award from Upstate Forever on February 3rd.
What the successes of these efforts cannot accurately portray, however, is Dr. Powell’s unwavering dedication to both his work and his students. I’ve had the opportunity of being able to work alongside Dr. Powell in the past few months compiling a detailed history of Furman’s sustainability progress, and it’s truly been a pleasure to get to know him and his history at Furman. Dr. Powell is both an inspiration to and loyal supporter of his fellow colleagues and students, and for the past 37 years, Dr. Powell has been not only a valuable asset to Furman’s success, but also more importantly, a great mentor and friend. We’ll miss you, Dr. Powell!