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Spartanburg Methodist College Announces Scott Cochran as its Eighth President

Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Spartanburg Methodist College, announced today that W. Scott Cochran has been named by the Board of Trustees as the eighth President of Spartanburg Methodist College.  Dr. Fisher stated:

“We have a proud legacy at Spartanburg Methodist College of encouraging students to dream big dreams and we will provide the foundation for students to have those opportunities. Scott Cochran is the perfect critical thinker and visionary leader who will move Spartanburg Methodist College into the future and continue the tradition of challenging students to strive to realize their lifelong dreams. We, the students, faculty, staff and Board of Trustees are excited to give without reservation the eighth presidential reigns to Scott.”

Mr. Cochran is a graduate of Wofford College and earned an MBA from Duke University. He has extensive experience in both business and higher education. His 20 years in business include roles as a senior executive in the US and internationally with GMAC, UPS Capital, and most recently, Performance Solutions by Milliken, a unit of Milliken & Company. Mr. Cochran served Wofford College for seven years as Dean of The Space. The Space houses a robust suite of programs including entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, consulting, and leadership, with the focus always being on helping students reach their full potential. Mr. Cochran has also taught finance courses at Wofford College. He is a Liberty Fellow. In accepting the presidency at Spartanburg Methodist, Mr. Cochran stated:

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to serve Spartanburg Methodist College as its eighth president. I look forward to working with an extremely talented group of faculty and staff to create an atmosphere where ideas flourish, students are inspired to dream, and everyone achieves more together.”

Spartanburg Methodist College is the only two year college in South Carolina that combines the benefits of a private school education with the college experience of living on campus. Over 90% of the graduates transfer to continue their pursuit of a baccalaureate degree.

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis to visit Spartanburg Methodist College

Spartanburg, SC – On Thursday, October 15, 2015, Spartanburg Methodist College will host athlete, author, speaker, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis. The program will be held at Ellis Hall in Gibbs Auditorium from 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Jennifer Pharr Davis has logged over 12,000 miles on six different continents, including thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Colorado Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, numerous trails in Europe, and the Appalachian Trail three times. In 2011, Jennifer wanted to test her physical limits. With the help of her husband Brew and a dedicated group of friends, she set the fastest known time (male or female) on the “A.T.” by hiking 47 miles a day for 46 days straight.

Jennifer will be sharing slides and stories, answering questions, and reading excerpts from her new book Called Again, which Kirkus Reviews calls “an inspired exploration of the meaning of commitment.”

For her adventures, Jennifer has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, ESPN, and the CBS Early Show. She is founder and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company (, an Asheville, North Carolina-based guiding service whose mission is “to make the wilderness accessible and enjoyable through the written and spoken word, instruction and guiding.”

For more information about the program, please call Sharon Wilborn, SMC, at 864-587-4256.

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SMC to present “Mr. Scrooge!”

Spartanburg Methodist College will present “Mr. Scrooge!” a musical adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on Wednesday, December 2 and Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the Gibbs Auditorium of Ellis Hall.  Admission is free of charge and the general public is invited to attend.

“Mr. Scrooge!” is written and scored by South Carolina Playwright and SMC Professor, Dr. Lanny Lanford. When Dr. Lanford was a seminary student he was invited to write the lyrics and music for a staged version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  A lifelong fan of Dickens, he jumped at the opportunity, but felt the two and half hour length of the production was too long and the underlying message of the real meaning of Christmas too vague.  So he and a fellow seminary student sought to shorten, yet retain the integrity of the story.  They gave it a fresh approach and made Dickens the narrator of the production.  This version has run continuously in theaters and churches since 1980.

This is Dickens’ story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounter with a variety of ghosts who appear to him in hopes of changing him into a nicer, kinder man at Christmas.  Dr. Lanford has lightened the story with whimsical and modern lyrics, bringing the Cratchit family, Scrooge, as well as the entire cast to life with words and music that will enlighten and delight us long after the curtain is closed.

Lanford holds a B.A. (with a choral emphasis) from the University of South Carolina; a Master of Church Music degree in theory and composition from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and returned to South Carolina to complete his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition.   His compositions have received world-wide attention, his most notable accolade was winning the International Composition Competition for his piece, Les Chevaliers du Tastevin.  Written in both French and English, this piece is particularly remarkable in that it was completed in just five days.  Another project that garnered major attention for Lanford was his original score for the feature film, More Than Diamonds, which he wrote, performed and recorded.  Released in September of 2010, this film (and CD soundtrack) quickly led to Lanford’s current involvement as a freelance film composer.  Lanford has recently lent his composing talents to the films PREVENT: Standoff Against Time and The Z Line.

Lanford brings over thirty years of experience in conducting and in higher education teaching to his current position of Professor of Music and Director of the Spartanburg Methodist College Music Program. In addition to teaching a full course load and directing the SMC Singers, Lanford has revitalized the SMC Troubadours, a traveling select choral group that performs a variety of music, primarily in Methodist churches in the Upstate area.


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Spartanburg Methodist College Announces New Appointees

Spartanburg Methodist College has announced new members of their 2015-2016 community of scholars which includes the following appointees:

Naeem AhmadNaeem Ahmad, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics. Ahmad holds a M.S. and Ph.D. from Kansas State University and previously taught at the University of West Georgia, University of Missouri as well as Kansas State University.

Dr. Jonathan KeislerJonathan Keisler, Ph.D., Professor of Economics. Keisler holds a B.S. and M.S. from Clemson University, M.S. from Georgia Southern University, and Ph.D. from Clemson University. His previous teaching experience includes Johnson College of Business and Economics, USC-Upstate, and Trident Technical College. Keisler has over 10 years of business experience with multiple industry leaders in service-based and product-based markets.

Kelly NeilKelly Neil, Ph.D., Professor of English. Neil earned her B.A. and M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.  She will serve SMC as Professor of English and British Literature. Neil previously taught at Appalachian State University, University of California, Davis, and Guilford Technical College.

Dennis AsheDennis Ashe, MA, interim Professor of Spanish. Ashe earned a M.A. and B.A. in Spanish, as well as a B.A. in History from Appalachian State University.  His teaching experience includes Vincennes University, North Greenville College, Texas Tech University and Appalachian State University.

Father CassFather A. Edmund Cass, interim Professor of Art. Cass holds a M.A. and B.A. from University of South Carolina. Cass is also the Presiding Bishop of the Self-Ruled Old Catholic Church. His prior teaching experience includes USC-Upstate, SMC, and Spartanburg Technical College.

Adam SiegfriedAdam Siegfried, interim Professor of Chemistry. Siegfried completed his M.S. and is completing his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Clemson University. Siegfried holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Coker College and previously taught at Clemson University, Anderson University and Tri-County Technical College.

Karen CraigKaren Craig, Adjunct Professor of English. Craig holds a M.Ed. in Education with a concentration in English from Converse College and a B.A. in English from Winthrop University. Craig has prior teaching experience with Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg County Districts 3, 6, and 7.

Barbara DelacBarbara Delac, Adjunct Professor of English. Delac holds a M.Ed. in English from State University of West Georgia and a B.A. in English from University of Akron. Her teaching experience includes A.P. English, District 2, USC-Upstate, Liberty County and Cobb County, GA Public Schools, Bethel, CT Public Schools, and Loudon County, VA Public Schools.

Jerry GilsdorfGerald “Jerry” Gilsdorf, Adjunct Professor of Sport Management. Gilsdorf earned his Doctorate of Education in Sports Management from United States Sports Academy, his M.S. in Kinesiology from University of Illinois at Chicago, and his B.A. in Secondary Education from Judson College. Gilsdorf currently teaches at Gardner-Webb University, and previously taught at Tusculum College, Tabor College, and Wheaton College.

Neill HanceNeill Hance, Adjunct Professor of Public Speaking and Director of SMC Theatre. Hance holds a M.A. in Drama with a Directing emphasis from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and B.A. from Furman University.  His teaching experience includes USC-Upstate, Greenville Technical College, Newberry College, USC-Union, Spartanburg Community College, Furman University, and Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.

Cecelia KapitanCecelia Kapitan, Adjunct Professor of Public Speaking. Kapitan earned her M.A. from University of Oklahoma, B.A. from California State University, and A.A. from El Camino College. She previously taught at Greenville Technical College, State College of Florida, University of South Florida, Marshall University, University of Charleston, WV, and Walters State College.

Robyn ZimmermanRobyn Zimmerman, Adjunct Professor of Public Speaking. Zimmerman holds a M.A. in Communications from The University of Michigan and a B.A. in Speech from Florida State University. Her teaching experience includes USC-Upstate, Greenville Technical College, Furman University, Columbia College, Midlands Technical College and Pima Community College.  Zimmerman previously served as Greenville Health System, Director of Public and Community Relations; SC Department of Juvenile Justice Deputy Director of Communications; Press Secretary for the Governor of SC; as well as an on-air talent, newscaster, anchor, producer and reporter.

Jacob Balmer Jacob Balmer, Physical Science lab assistant. Balmer is majoring in Biology with a concentration is Medical Humanities at Wofford College. He has served as teaching assistant in the Wofford Chemistry department since September 2013.

Robin CarterRobin Carter, Biology lab assistant.  Carter holds a M.A. in Biology from University of Alabama Huntsville and a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Troy State University. Carter previously taught at Greenville Tech and the Palmetto State E-cademy, and J.L. Mann Academy.

Dr. Ann Bowles, Vice President of Academic Affairs at SMC, stated “our college community is pleased to welcome new colleagues who join us in our commitment to teaching and engaging our students in the learning process.  We are very excited to have these dynamic folks on our team.”


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SMC Convocation Address to focus on Educating the Professor

Spartanburg Methodist College will mark the official start of the 2015-2016 academic year with its annual convocation ceremony to be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 2.  Convocation, the celebration to welcome new students and prepare the campus to move into a successful academic year, will feature Dr. Katherine Davis Cann as the program’s keynote speaker.

Cann, SMC’s Professor of History and Chair of the Social Science Division, is a highly respected professor, researcher, author and historian.  Her meticulous work in researching and articulating the history of both Spartanburg Methodist College and South Carolina has preserved history in ways that will forever enable others to understand their value and appreciate their ongoing significance.

A graduate of Lander University, Cann holds advanced degrees from the University of North Carolina (MA in History) and the University of South Carolina (PhD in History).  Cann has called Spartanburg Methodist College home since 1981 and during that same time, has written several articles and books, Common Ties, A History of Textile Industrial Institute, Spartanburg Junior College and Spartanburg Methodist College (Hub City Press) and Turning Point, The American Revolution in the Spartan District (Hub City Press) about Spartanburg Methodist as well as the Upstate.

Cann’s convocation address will focus on her 34 years of teaching, and the wisdom her students have imparted her. “Last spring Dr. Cann announced she would be retiring at the end of the Fall 2015 semester. The ripple effect of this revelation inspired us to ask Dr. Cann to speak at this year’s convocation. Without question, Dr. Cann’s amusing take on her decades spent in the classroom will be priceless,” shared Dr. Ann Bowles, Vice President of Academic Affairs for SMC.

Stephanie Ann Smith VISTA Volunteer

SMC Teams with AmeriCorps VISTA to Expand A Day Into A Year

For the past 14 consecutive years, SMC kicked off the academic school year with their coveted Freshman Day of Service. The one day event involved entering freshman, divided into small groups led by a faculty/staff member and two sophomores, who were sent to schools, churches, soup kitchens, shelters assisting children, the elderly, the environment, and animals, assisting with cleaning, painting, cooking, socializing, landscaping and any other tasks the service organization might need.  Beginning in 2015, that “day” of service will be turned into a “year” of service opportunities.

Candice Sloan, Chaplain and Adjunct Professor of Religion at SMC, and the SMC Service Committee were charged with planning the Freshman Day of Service. Last year they evaluated the event, which had reached maximum capacity (too many students to work efficiently for organizations), student satisfaction, the level of 1-day effectiveness, and the desire of students for more in-depth volunteer opportunities and decided to go in a new direction.  Upon the Committee’s recommendation, SMC reallocated resources from the Day of Service and with the assistance of the South Carolina Campus Compact was able to secure an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer for the upcoming 2015-2016 Academic Year.

Americorps VistaVISTA , founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America, was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993.  Today, more than 46 million Americans live in poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty.  VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities.

Stephanie Smith, from Florence, SC, will be the AmeriCorps VISTA serving SMC. Smith holds an M.A. in English, Concentration in Creative Writing Fiction, from East Carolina University, Greenville, NC and a B.A. in English, Minor in Creative Writing, from Francis Marion University. Smith shared she “is passionate and committed to the mission to bring individuals and communities out of poverty and looks forward to making a tangible difference and finding the fulfillment that comes from using your knowledge and skills to help those in disadvantaged circumstances turn their dreams into reality.”

According to Sloan, “Smith’s primary job will be to encourage volunteerism and incorporate creative service-learning into the SMC curriculum as well as co-curricular activities. We are hoping Stephanie will be a bridge to the neighboring Arcadia community and the SMC community.”  Smith will work with Arcadia Elementary School and Arch Ministries, an afterschool program for children at Arcadia Elementary.  The majority of students at Arcadia Elementary School come from low-income families, with 99 percent receiving free or reduced lunch. About 80 percent are Hispanic, and many have parents who speak little or no English.


“Smith’s ability to foster ongoing SMC volunteer opportunities (such as mentoring, tutoring, etc.) should increase education levels in the Arcadia community and show elementary children college IS a real possibility.   Likewise, it is hoped SMC students will in turn, value their college experience and appreciate their coursework by the opportunity to utilize their skills and abilities in projects with children and their families at the school and at Arch Ministries. Bringing SMC’s founding father, Dr. David English Camak’s vision, ‘providing resources for education and for life,’ full circle,” shared Sloan.

Rep. Donna Hicks

SC Representative Donna Hicks was featured speaker at SMC Honor Code Signing

Spartanburg Methodist College welcomed South Carolina District 37 Representative Donna C. Hicks as the featured speaker at the College’s Honor Code signing on Monday, August 17.

The SMC Honor Code Signing is a time honored tradition where the campus pauses to recognize the importance of honor and truthfulness and reflect on what that means to members of the SMC community.DSC_0746

Student Government President, sophomore Shameia Rosier of Greenville, SC, led the reading of the SMC Honor Code, which illustrates the basic expectations regarding social and academic behavior for faculty, staff and students, the importance of truthfulness, academic and personal integrity, intellectual honesty, respect for the educational process; and respect for the individual.   In her remarks regarding the significance of the students signing of the Honor Code, Rep. Hicks referenced Proverbs 21:21 “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor.”

Rep. Hicks touched on recent events in Charleston and how a poem she read in college regarding the bombing of a church in Birmingham came full circle for her when she learned of the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that took the life of her colleague, State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney.

Rep. Hicks recounted the events of those 22 days, 13 hours of political negotiations, and the 10 minutes it took to lower the Confederate flag, and shared how she, and fellow South Carolinians, were directed to stand for what was right.  She challenged the assembly of SMC students, faculty and staff to “do the right thing for the right reason at the right time” and ended her presentation with a question “what will you do with your opportunity?”

Rep. Hicks, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, is a business owner and resident of Boiling Springs, SC. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and holds two degrees from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Rep. Hicks is an active community leader: a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg and Leadership South Carolina; a member of the Board of Directors for Upstate Family Resource Center, the Boiling Springs Lions Club and the Business Association of Boiling Springs; in addition, she is the past President and Regional Director of the Jaycees. DSC_0740

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Freshman Students Choose SMC for Immediate Engagement and Long-Term Success

Spartanburg Methodist College will move close to 600 students into the College’s seven residence halls beginning on Saturday, August 15 when incoming freshman arrive, and on Monday, August 17 when sophomores return to campus.

SMC is South Carolina’s only private, residential college exclusively for freshmen and sophomore students. That fact is the reason many high school graduates choose the small, close-knit community of students, faculty and staff which is SMC. Another key reason is that SMC enrolls over 73% of students with 3.0 or higher GPA’s, and rewards them with SMC Scholar financial packages. In fact, SMC financial aid packages, including over $14 million in scholarships awarded each year, help 98% of SMC students with the cost of housing and tuition.

The College’s intimate level of exclusivity means SMC’s 500+ incoming freshman class, will be immediately immersed into a values-oriented, student-centered atmosphere that encourages academic excellence, intellectual exploration, social awareness, and character development within the liberal arts tradition. SMC’s student-faculty ratio of 19:1 allows students to know professors personally and immediately engage in the classroom.

For many students, figuring out what they want to study in college (as well as what they actually want to do for the rest of their lives) is difficult. SMC provides the time and support freshman and sophomore students need to sort through their many options; and with one of the most comprehensive career mentoring and field of study placement programs around, 87% of students that graduate from SMC continue their education. SMC has transfer agreements with over 200+ colleges and universities to allow for seamless transitions.

SMC has been awarded an Advance SC grant to provide incoming freshman students the opportunity to participate in a pilot interest/career identifying assessment program based on the Strong Interest Inventory. The program, entitled Pioneer Pathways, is directed by Kathleen Brown, SMC’s Director of Learning Community and Director of Freshman Year Experience, who also serves as Adjunct Professor of Biology. According to Brown, “the inventory will be used to help identify each student’s area of strength and interest. Results will then be provided to the student and their advisor, giving them the tools to select courses that will strengthen their choice of majors. Students will also have the opportunity to intern at businesses and organizations during the summer following their freshman year to help verify that they have made the correct choice for the area of study they plan to focus on during the remainder of the college career. Upon successful completion of the internship, a $1500 scholarship will be awarded for use in the fall of 2016 at SMC or any transfer institution.”

“Spartanburg Methodist College is committed to building our students’ strengths and our dedicated faculty make students excited about their futures. SMC’s overall goal is the development of engaged students into successful, healthy and happy individuals who thrive performing meaningful work and contributing to society,” summed up Brown.

Class of 2015

Interesting facts about the Incoming Freshman Class @ Spartanburg Methodist College

Spartanburg Methodist College’s 2015 incoming freshman class, most of whom were born in 1993 to parents who could always get pregnant – regardless of age, arrived on the scene as the Internet merged into the fast lane of the information highway and electric cars hummed in relative silence on actual roads. Amazon is their “go to source” for everything; music has always been available via free downloads; they share everything publicly – they text to vote for their favorite entertainers or break up with their significant other…they have grown up on websites and cell phones.

The Mindset List* for the Class of 2015 (the SMC condensed version)

  1. Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
  2. States and Velcro-parents have always required they wear bike helmets.
  3. Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
  4. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.
  5. While they’ve been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.
  6. Most have grown up with a faux Christmas Tree in the house at the holidays.
  7. American tax forms, automated customer service, etc. have always been available in Spanish.
  8. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
  9. They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who?
  10. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
  11. “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short.
  12. Arnold Palmer has always been a drink.
  13. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day.
  14. They have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel!
  15. They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website – especially if it isn’t mobile friendly.

*Since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

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SMC Psi Beta chapter earns Chapter Excellence Award for Fourth Consecutive Year

Psi Beta, the National Honor Society in Psychology for community and junior colleges, has recognized the Spartanburg Methodist College chapter of Psi Beta with the prestigious Psi Beta Chapter Excellence Award for 2014-15. Few of the nation’s Psi Beta chapters achieve this level of distinction, however, this is the fourth consecutive year that SMC Psi Beta garnered this prestigious national award.

The SMC Psi Beta chapter, chartered on September 1, 1988, is under the direction of Dr. Mary Jane Farmer, professor of psychology. She is assisted by Pete Aylor, psychology professor and Director of SMC’s Counseling Center and Sue Onken, college counselor. “I feel grateful and blessed. We cannot achieve this without the loving, dedicated and professional support of Mr. Aylor and Mrs. Onken and of course, the elected student officers of Psi Beta, Victoria Shaw (President), Matt Bishop (Vice President), and Brittany Del Moore (Secretary),” shared Dr. Mary Jane Farmer, who added, “I am looking forward to another successful year for SMC PSI BETA.”

Psi Beta provides students with opportunities to acquire leadership skills, interact with faculty outside the classroom, learn more about the professional and educational choices available in psychology, meet outstanding professionals in psychology, participate in community service, meet peers with similar interests, and be involved with Psi Beta on the national level. The award challenges chapters to engage in activities reflecting Psi Beta’s four-pronged mission of leadership, scholarship, community service and research.

Membership to Psi Beta is by invitation only. To be considered, students must have at least 12 college credits, earn a B or higher in PSYC 101, maintain a 3.25 GPA and be of good moral character. Over 450 SMC students have achieved life-time membership to Psi Beta.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, SMC’s Psi Beta Seminar Series focused on innovative programming that had wide spread impact on the campus. Seminars focused on the pervasive problem of eating disorders for both men and women; hands-on experience and education on the benefits of therapy dogs; understanding and stopping sexual assault; as well the development of mental health diagnosis and treatment over the past 40 years in SC and throughout the nation. SMC Psi Beta students also participated in the Viva Academia competition at the USC Upstate Symposium.

Eric McDonald, Interim President of Spartanburg Methodist College, stated “SMC is dedicated to providing outstanding educational opportunities for our students and the Psi Beta Chapter Excellence Award is yet another powerful acknowledgement of our successful commitment to scholarship, leadership, research, and community service.”

Rep. Donna Hicks

Representative Donna Hicks to be featured speaker at Honor Code Signing Monday, August 17

South Carolina District 37 Representative Donna C. Hicks will be the featured speaker at the Honor Code signing on Monday, August 17. The event will be held in the Camak Auditorium. The Honor Code Signing is a time honored tradition of SMC where the campus pauses to recognize the importance of honor and truthfulness and reflect on what that means to us as members of the SMC community.


Eric McDonald named Interim President of Spartanburg Methodist College

Eric McDonald has been named Interim President of Spartanburg Methodist College by the SMC Board of Trustees. McDonald will take over duties effective Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The decision is in response to former President Dr. Colleen Perry Keith’s appointment as President of Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.

McDonald, who has served as Vice President of Business Affairs for SMC since April of 2008 overseeing all financial, facilities and information technology aspects of the College’s operations, will also continue in his normal duties until a new president can be found for the college.

“As we bid Dr. Keith farewell, we know that Spartanburg Methodist College is in excellent hands with Eric McDonald in charge. We are confident that Mr. McDonald will provide excellent administrative leadership and guidance as Interim President. Eric McDonald has been an outstanding member of the President’s Cabinet for over seven years,” said Dr. Phinnize Fisher, Chair of the Board of SMC, and co-chair of the SMC Presidential Search Committee.

Beginning on July 1st, McDonald’s career will have gone full circle.  Initially he went to Mercer College to study accounting, but became active in a Baptist Student Union group and decided to go into the ministry.  After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and then a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern Seminary, a friend at church led McDonald back to the accounting industry, where he spent 10 years working for CPA firms in North Carolina.

McDonald then joined the CPA firm of McAbee, Talbert, Halliday & Co. in Spartanburg. Eight years later Art Hartzog, who was then SMC’s Dean of Students, approached McDonald at a Spartanburg County Lions Club meeting and informed him SMC was looking for a new Vice President of Business Affairs.  The news changed McDonald’s life. In 2008 McDonald says he “stepped into a situation that was not in crisis. SMC had been very well taken care of and over the past seven years I have drawn heavily on my experience as a CPA to keep SMC healthy financially and thriving overall as an educational institution.”

SMC’s mission is to transform lives in a values-oriented, student-centered atmosphere in the Christian tradition that encourages academic excellence, intellectual exploration, social awareness, and character development within the liberal arts tradition.  As Interim President, McDonald’s primary focus will be attracting and educating talented students by having a dedicated staff and faculty with diverse backgrounds and experiences to delivery on that 104-year tradition and mission commitment.

McDonald and his wife, Melinda, who was recently ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are members of First Christian Church in Greenville, SC and enjoy spending time outdoors in the Upstate.

The SMC Board of Trustees have formed a presidential search committee and have partnered with Coleman Lew + Associates, Inc. to begin the national search for the eighth president of Spartanburg Methodist College.


SMC Faculty and Staff Recognized during Annual Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon

Spartanburg Methodist College recently recognized dedicated faculty and  staff at their annual service and awards luncheon. Twenty-one employees have 340 years of combined service to SMC!

Employees were recognized for 5-year increments of service, including Megan Aiello, Head Volleyball Coach; Harry Bayne, Professor of English and Chairperson of the Division of English; Jeff Brookman, Head Men’s Basketball Coach; Amanda Cheek, Library Assistant; Sue Onken, Counselor; David Revan, Adjunct Professor of English; Chris Roberson, Financial Aid Counselor; Jonathan Sedberry, Professor of English; Kelly Tillinghast, Admissions Counselor; and Paula Williams, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students, who celebrated five years with SMC. Jessica Harwood, Professor of Biology and Chairperson of the Division of Science and Health, was recognized for 10 years of service. Sherry Collins, Athletic Event and Budget Manager, and Johnny Worthy, Maintenance Technician, were recognized for 15 years of service. Steven Jeter, Tutor Coordinator for Student Support Services, and Dan Kenneally, Director of Soccer and Head Women’s Soccer Coach, celebrated 20 years of service; Jill Johnson, Registrar, and Barry Ward, Professor of Health and Physical Education, were recognized for their 30 years of service; Sharon Porter, Director of Student Support Services, and Mike Bowers, Director of Church Funding, celebrated 35 years of service and Harry Barnett, Senior Maintenance Technician, and David Gibson, Professor of Mathematics, were recognized for their unwavering 40 years of service to the College.

Janet Wilson, Professor of Mathematics and Chairperson of the Division of Business, Math, and Computer Science, was honored for her 37 years in the classroom that spanned the evolution from slide rulers to digital technology. Wilson is retiring from full-time responsibilities at SMC; but, she will return as an adjunct professor of mathematics.

Teresa Ferguson, Chief of Campus Safety, was awarded the J.L. Geddis Award for outstanding service to the College.  Geddis served admirably at SMC for 41 years, beginning in 1964 as a student at Spartanburg Junior College (present day SMC) and held many areas of responsibility during his 41 years here at SJC and SMC including: Business Manager, VP for Business Affairs, Faculty Member—teaching Accounting and Economics, and Men’s Golf Coach for 5 years. In 2007 the college established the J. L. Geddis Award to honor an outstanding SMC staff member each year.

Ferguson has been the Chief of Campus Safety for eight years and serves as one of only a few female chiefs in the State of South Carolina.  She has a M. S. degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies from Limestone College. She has 20 years of  experience in law enforcement; six years as a School Resource Officer in a local public school district, and five years as a Community Patrol Officer.  Chief Ferguson is a graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, is certified as a Class I Law Enforcement Officer, and is a State Constable.  In addition, she has extensive in-service training, is certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy including as a Basic Instructor, and FTO Manager and has received advanced certification as a School Resource Officer.  She also is an adjunct instructor of the Freshman Year Experience at Spartanburg Methodist College. She is secretary and member of the Spartanburg County Police Chiefs Association.

The Dr. James S. Barrett Award was presented by his son, Rob Barrett, partner with the Holcombe Bomar, P.A. law firm.  The annual award is presented each year to recognize an SMC member who demonstrates exemplary service to and support of the Department of Institutional Advancement. Dr. Barrett served as president of SMC for 10 years, and his son shared that he could think of no honor that would please his father more than having this award presented in his name. “My dad would say about the recipient of this award that they ‘get it’; they understand that the true mission of SMC calls people to service that goes above and beyond. Our 2015 recipient certainly exemplifies that spirit and her title is certainly indicative of the vast amount of turf that she covers here at SMC. I think family friend Fletcher Thompson, local attorney and a very proud alumnus of SMC summed it all up very well when he said, ‘I have never known anyone who could do more things at the same time – and do them all well – than Yvonne Harper.’”  Harper earned a double major with a Bachelor of Arts in Business/Merchandising and Paralegal/Pre-Law Studies from Virginia Intermont College. She has served as Public Information Director for SMC since 2013, and as the College’s Director of the Paralegal Certificate Evening Program since 2004. Harper previously served the Upstate business community for 14 years as a program manager with the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce.


Dr. Cole Cheek

Dr. Cole Cheek Awarded Tenure @ SMC

The Board of Trustees at Spartanburg Methodist College voted to award tenure to Dr. Cole Cheek, Professor of History and Anthropology during their Thursday, May 21, 2015 meeting.

In higher education, tenure may be pursued and granted based on a rigorous review process conducted by peers, administrators, and Trustees. According to Dr. Ann Bowles, Vice President for Academ

The Board of Trustees at Spartanburg Methodist College voted to award tenure to Dr. Cole Cheek, Professor of History and Anthropology during their Thursday, May 21, 2015 meeting.

In higher education, tenure may be pursued and granted based on a rigorous review process conducted by peers, administrators, and Trustees. According to Dr. Ann Bowles, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Spartanburg Methodist College, “a faculty member’s eligibility for tenure is determined first by teaching ability, followed by a combination of student advising, community service to the campus, professional development activities, and research/scholarship.  Dr. Cheek is an asset to SMC. He is an engaging professor who encourages student involvement in student organizations as well as research. He is committed to the holistic development of our students and to preparing them for the next step in their college career.”

Cheek began his teaching career as Professor of History at SMC in the fall of 2008. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps College, and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from Mississippi State University. Cheek advises several student organizations including Kappa Sigma Alpha service society and Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society. He is a vital member of the Upstate Research Symposium planning committee and has brought recognition to a number of SMC student-researchers during the annual symposium competition.

Cheek was the 2013 recipient of the Archie Vernon and Margaret Wannamaker Huff Faculty Prize by his colleagues in 2013 for outstanding professional qualifications, demonstration of exceptional service and teaching skill. He was received the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Exemplary Teaching Award in 2011 for exemplary teaching, service to students beyond the classroom, and commitment to values-centered education.  Cheek and his wife, Amanda, reside in Moore, South Carolina.