The Greenville story of: Troy Terry

Educating those to stop nothing short of 100%

By: Eric Swofford

How long have you been in the Greenville area?: Thirty-seven years.

What is your background? I grew up in the Low Country in Hardeeville, SC, just across the river from Savannah. I knew a few cousins who attended Clemson, so I moved to the Upstate, pursued English and communications, and met a Clemson girl. 

It was an exciting time for me as an undergraduate at Clemson. I wrote for The Tiger and did a little work for WCCP-FM. A year or so after graduation, I prepared for various roles in education that have had an impact on my literacy and service-learning advocacy ever since. I then taught high school English and Drama in Pickens and Anderson counties, and served as a middle school assistant principal and elementary principal. 

Also through Clemson, I earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Earning my Ph.D. was an exciting step for me because I was the first generation to graduate from college in my immediate family. 

And best of all, that Clemson girl is still my wife and we have four children.

What is the most interesting fact about you? My wife and I were Shag Dance Champions as college students at college week in Myrtle Beach. We have been members of different shag clubs ever since. We love to dance together.

What are you currently reading and/or watching? Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance, and Marc Levy’s The Last of the Stanfields.

What is your hobby(s)? Choral and choir singing at church and exercise in the area around Furman. 

When I broke my leg during the winter, I learned that laying around is not good for my mental health. I am much more aware now about accessibility issues after going from wheelchair to walker to crutches.

What phrase do you live by? If you’re not going to give your 100%, just don’t give me anything. You have to work hard for most things.

If you work, who do you work for? Furman University. I’m currently the Executive Director for Graduate and Evening Studies.

What is your day-to-day at work? Day-to-day if unemployed/retired? When I started at Furman, I primarily directed graduate programs in education. We’ve added three programs in the last three years: a Master of Science and Community Engaged Medicine, Masters of Art and Strategic Design, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching. 

Furman’s undergraduate evening program is about sixty years old. We estimate that there are about 34,000 adults in Greenville who are potential candidates for degree completion.

How would you describe Greenville? I love Greenville and it has been great to watch its growth over the last thirty-seven years. I remember walking through the abandoned Poinsett Hotel in the 80s. I love that restoration. It is a gorgeous building. I love that we are so connected to nature and how easy it is to get to the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

How would Greenville describe YOU? Contributor to our community through educational advocacy.

What is your happiest Greenville moment? Serving on the Education Spectrum Committee which is part of Ten at the Top, which brought business, community, and educational leaders together.

What about Greenville makes you proud, likely the reasons you are still here. I just finished the Riley Diversity Leaders Institute, which is about expanding diversity and awareness. I am amazed at the talent level we have here and are attracting to our community. 

I hope leadership moving forward has a vision for our entire community. As proud as I am about the Liberty Bridge and that corridor, I worry about gentrification and the impact on historical populations. Things are changing very quickly. There should be a plan to raise everybody in the community and not force them out. 

It has been a great opportunity to be part of Furman within the greater Greenville community. There is a rich history within our community for life-long learning. It is gratifying to see folks move from other places to access the OLLI program at Furman.

Besides your residence or place of work, where is your favorite Greenville morning hangout? If it is a weekend, we might stop in downtown Travelers Rest or ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Besides your residence or place of work, where is your favorite Greenville evening hangout? Main Street in Greenville. We love it, especially at festival times like Artisphere and Fall for Greenville. I really love downtown when there’s live music.

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