Susan Thomson Shi is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and a 1971 cum laude
graduate of Furman University with a degree in history.
At Furman, she served as a student body officer and was elected to Senior Order, the university's honorary leadership organization for senior women. She was also named to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges
. She went on to earn a master's degree in education from Furman and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She worked for 13 years as an educator and administrator, mostly in the North Carolina public schools. Since moving to Greenville in 1993, she has been an active volunteer in civic and community affairs, with a special interest in educational issues.
Mrs. Shi is a member and board chair of Greenville's Alliance for Quality Education, which seeks to enhance professional development by awarding grants to teachers to improve their classroom effectiveness. She has chaired the board of the Community Foundation, the United Way of Greenville and the "Success by 6" program, an initiative designed to ensure that all preschool children enter school ready to learn. She served on a panel appointed by former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges to select the state-wide evaluation team for the First Steps for School Readiness programs, and was co-chair of a committee that established educational priorities for the School District of Greenville County.
Mrs. Shi's husband, David, was president of Furman from 1994-2010. They have two children — Jason and Jessica — and one grandchild.