David E. Shi (pronounced “Shy”) served as the 10th president of Furman University from 1994 to 2010. During his presidential tenure, Furman solidified its stature as one of the nation’s finest liberal arts colleges. Applications to the university increased 75 percent, faculty salaries improved dramatically, the endowment quadrupled, the academic profile of the student body rose, and the campus benefited from more than $210 million in new construction and renovation.

An Atlanta native and a 1973 Furman graduate, he joined the university administration in 1993 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. David was also a champion of the university’s emphasis on engaged learning, energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Under his direction, Furman became a national leader in promoting sustainability.

David was a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2006. During his presidency, Furman built the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental) certified building in South Carolina (there are now 7 LEED-certified buildings on campus). In March 2010, Furman’s Board of Trustees named the university’s dazzling new Center for Sustainability in honor of Shi.

Established in 2008, the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability (pictured right) has evolved into a hub where educators, students and community leaders can work together, exploring the most complex issues of sustainability.

Other accomplishments:
*In early 2010, Upstate Forever, a regional environmental advocacy organization, bestowed on President Shi its Lifetime Achievement Award.
*Past chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
*Served on the Chronicle of Higher Education/New York Times Higher Education Cabinet and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
*Board member of Second Nature, the non-profit organization based in Boston that is responsible for administering the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
*Received the 2003 Presidential Leadership Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
*Named 2003 Greenville Magazine Business Person of the Year
*He received the 2003 Whitney M. Young, Jr., Humanitarian Award, the highest honor given by the Urban League of the Upstate.
*He was also named among Greenville’s “Top 25 Leaders” in a community poll conducted by The Greenville News.
*In 2010, the Shis were honored by the Community Foundation of Greenville and G: The Magazine of Greenville as recipients of the 2010 Lifetime of Giving Back Award, recognizing their individual contributions and their extensive community involvement.
*Received honorary degrees from Centre College and Mercer University.
*In 1999, he was among an elite group of 50 college and university presidents recognized by the John Templeton Foundation for their outstanding leadership in the development of student character. The previous year, Furman was awarded a $150,000 Presidential Leadership grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in recognition of David’s leadership.
*Current member of the Board of Trustees at Brevard College, NC


A specialist in intellectual and cultural history, David is the author of several books, including Matthew Josephson(Yale University Press, 1980), The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture (Oxford University Press, 1985), which was a History Book Club selection, and Facing Facts: Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 1994). He is also co-author, with the late George B. Tindall, of the best-selling textbook America: a Narrative History (W. W. Norton), now in its tenth edition.


In 2016 Quartz Magazine reported that America: A Narrative History was the No. 1 U.S. History textbook used in colleges and universities. See http://qz.com/602956/these-are-the-books-students-at-the-top-us-colleges-are-required-to-read/?utm_source=atlfb&ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

David is a prolific newspaper essayist. He has published several hundred of columns in newspapers such as The Greenville News, The Christian Science Monitor, The Charlotte Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others. His columns and essays are also heard on the South Carolina network of National Public Radio. A collection of his speeches, essays and columns has been published under the title The Bell Tower and Beyond: Reflections on Learning and Life.

Books in order of publication:

The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture1985
n Search of the Simple Life: American Voices, Past and Present1986
America: A Narrative History, Study Guide Volume II / Brief Sixth Edition1988
America, a Narrative History Study Guide1992
Facing Facts: Realism in American Thought and Culture, 1850-19201995
For the Record: A Documentary History of America: From First Contact Through Reconstruction1999
For the Record: A Documentary History of America, Volume 2: From Reconstruction Through Contemporary Times1999
America: A Narrative History1999
United States History Atlas2000
The Bell Tower And Beyond: Reflections On Learning And Living2002
America: A Narrative History, Brief Edition2004
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 1, Part 12006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 1, Part 22006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 1, Part 32006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 1, Part 42006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 2, Part 12006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 2, Part 22006
America: A Narrative History 7e, Volume 2, Part 32006
America: A Narrative History, Brief 7th Edition Volume Two2007
America: A Narrative History, 8th Edition2009
America: A Narrative History, Brief 8 Edition2009
America, A Narrative History Ninth Edition* Volume Two2012