The Cothran Center

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." — Frederick Buechner

College students are at the first major turning point in their lives — one that will impact not only their future but also the futures of their families and the communities in which they live, and perhaps even the nation or world. This is not a time for youth to make pre-emptive decisions that are guided mainly by the loudest voices of culture and media. Yet these voices are compelling and often carry the day.

The Cothran Center's mission is to evoke thoughtful and honest self-evaluation, guided exploration of ultimate questions and concerns, and discovery of ways to match gifts and values with what the world needs to become more humane, safe, beautiful, and sustainable for all. Its goal is to instill in every career and life choice a sense of compassion, integrity, and service to mankind. Initiated in 2001 through a grant from the Lilly Endowment for the "theological exploration of vocation," the Center, within a Christian framework, invites both those who are traditionally religious, as well as those who are not, to take seriously the ultimate meaning and purpose of life.

Read about the Cothran Center's naming gift and major boost. 

Students at Mepkin Abbey

Programs and resources for vocational discernment for students, faculty, staff and alumni:

Annual Student Programs:

  • Summer Connections — service learning and theological exploration for incoming students
  • International Service Learning — a work-study abroad experience for sophomores
  • Rinker Mountain Retreat
  • Mepkin Abbey Retreat
  • Many other opportunities for learning and service

Alumni Programs (offered alternate years)

  • "What's Calling You Now" — weekend retreat to offer vocational reflection at key transition points
  • Summer pilgrimages to sacred places (there were two pilgrimages to Ireland during the summer of 2011. Click below to follow the blog.)

Faculty, Staff and Community Programs:

  • Annual Good Lecture
  • Publications
  • Courses
  • Individual vocational counseling
  • Liaison to internship and service opportunities

Furman is currently seeking funding for student scholarships to support participation in Summer Connections and the International Service Learning Trip. To endow one scholarship costs $25,000. Potential donors are welcome to visit, participate in, or receive detailed information about these programs.


Current Volunteer Leadership

  • Peggy Ellison Good '67, co-chair
  • Leighan Rinker, co-chair

Staff Leadership


My Furman Story

In the Summer of 2008, Sue Lakusta Cullen '76 went on a Summer Alumni Retreat, sponsored by the Lilly Center. Sue was an enthusiastic member of the Lilly Task Force. Unfortunately, she succumbed to cancer within months of her diagnosis. Read about her Alumni Retreat experience.