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Upstate Pioneering Women Recognized by Spartanburg Methodist College

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Spartanburg Methodist College hosted their annual Pioneering Women Awards Luncheon on Friday, February 20th to acknowledge women of character, courage and commitment in the Upstate community.  During the 2015 event, SMC recognized nine women with awards for their commitment and leadership in their respective fields of media, education, public service, missions, philanthropy, politics, leadership and business.

“The Pioneering Women awards program provides SMC with the perfect occasion to celebrate women in our community who are making a difference close to home, around our state and beyond,” said Leah Pruitt, committee member and Director of Alumni Relations. The annual awards luncheon draws over 100 women attendees from a variety of fields.

“The pioneers recognized today are individuals who possess courage and ambition to overcome obstacles – and there are always obstacles when one tries to do something worthwhile,” stated SMC President Colleen Perry Keith.

Heather Witt, Vice President of Community Impact for the United Way of the Piedmont, was the Keynote Speaker at the event, which was held in the Gibbs Auditorium located in Ellis Hall on the SMC campus.

Born and raised in Canal Winchester, Ohio (a small suburb of Columbus), and Witt earned a Bachelors in Public Health Administration and more recently a Bachelors in Organizational Management and Marketing graduating with honors from Southwest University. She began her non-profit career working for the Columbus Medical Association Foundation. Since moving to the Upstate, she has worked as Executive Director for Prevent Child Abuse of Pickens County and for the past, nearly 4 years has served at the United Way of the Piedmont managing all of their impact work and was recently promoted to Vice President of Community Impact.

Witt is a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Spartanburg class, and the 2014 Women Connections Program through Furman University. She serves as a member of the Spartanburg Business and Professional Women Civic Group; she is also an Advisory Board Member for the Spartanburg County Community College, Co-chairs the Behavioral Health Taskforce and actively volunteers as a Guardian ad-litem for the county.

2015 Awards and recipients were as follows:

  • Alumna Award: TK Butler, Police Officer, Aiken Department of Public Safety
  • Media Award: Kathie Bennett, Founder and President of Magic Time Literary Agency;
  • Public Service Award: Mary Deku, Former award-winning educator and active community volunteer;
  • Missions Award: Melanie Watt, Founder of Hope Remains Youth Ranch;
  • Philanthropy Award: Cyndi Beacham, President, Charles Lea Center Foundation
  • Political Leadership Award: Jane Hall, District 4 Councilwomen, Spartanburg County Council;
  • Business Award: Karen Knuckles, owner of Express Employment Professionals;
  • Creative Leadership Award: Kathy Cann, Author, Researcher, Historian and Professor of History and Chair of the Social Sciences Department at SMC;
  • Education Award: Susan Burgess, School Counselor, Chapman High School

Prior winners have included:

  • Pioneering Women Lifetime Achievement Award: Sheila Breitweiser (’14).
  • Alumna Award: Elizabeth Hartley Renneker (’14); Jill Johnson (’13); Stacie Williams (’12); and Jessica Mack (’11)
  • Media Award: Christy Henderson (’14); Amanda Bass (‘13); Charmayne Brown (’12); and Keisha Kirkland (’11).
  • Public Service/Government Award: Sharon Porter (’14), Judge Ponda Caldwell (’13); Barbara Barnes (’12); and Hope Blackley (’11).
  • Missions Award: Jean Bradley (’14)’ Jayne McQueen (’13); Julia Lyons (’12); and Lou Landrum (’11).
  • Philanthropy Award: Betty Montgomery (’14); Mary Thomas (’13); Phyllis B. DeLapp (’12); and Dr. Charlotte Ellis (’11).
  • Political Leadership Award: Erica Brown (’14); Harriett Rucker (’13); Liz Patterson (’12); and Rita Allison (’11).
  • Business Award: Beth Jeter Hrubala (‘14); Sue Schneider (’13); Tammy Devine (’12); and Susan Bridges (’11).
  • Creative Leadership Award: Betsy Teeter (’14); Peggy Magarahan (’13); and Mary Ellen Suitt (’12).
  • Education Award: Penny Fisher (’14); Donna Christopher (’13); Margaret Peach (’12); and Melissa Andrews (’11).
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SMC’s Dr. Colleen Perry Keith Named President of Pfeiffer University

Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, President of Spartanburg Methodist College since 2009, has been named president of Pfeiffer University. The announcement was made today by the trustees of the Misenheimer, North Carolina college. Pfeiffer also has campuses in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham and is a sister college in the United Methodist connection.

“While we are sad to be losing Dr. Keith, we know that this is a great fit for her skills and experience and a wonderful next step for her career as a college president,” said Dr. Phinnize Fisher, Chair of the Board for SMC. “Dr. Keith has been an exceptional leader for SMC and will bring her outstanding gifts in administration and fundraising to bear for Pfeiffer’s benefit. She is widely regarded throughout the field of higher education as a thoughtful and effective leader. SMC’s loss is Pfeiffer’s benefit.”

Under Keith’s leadership, SMC has completed a major funds campaign, increased its capacity for fundraising, raised its public profile across the state, expanded its alumni programming, started two new degree programs, and taken on capital projects including the construction of Ellis Hall. SMC’s enrollment has remained strong throughout Keith’s tenure and the college’s outstanding athletic programs have continued to thrive in competition at the national level.

Beyond the campus, Keith has become an active volunteer in the Upstate. She serves on the boards of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, which she chairs; the Mary Black Foundation; the Greer Education Foundation; the Arts Partnership; the Spartanburg Academic Movement; Spartanburg Regional Hospital’s Hospice Home; and Habitat for Humanity of Spartanburg County. On the state level, she chairs the President’s Council for the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities organization and is the secretary for the South Carolina Tuition Grants commission. On the national level, she is the past president of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church and continues on its board.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I will miss SMC and my Pioneers. This is a great college and one that plays a very important role in getting students started on their higher education journey. Of everything we have accomplished over the past six years, I am most proud of the fact that SMC is no longer the ‘best kept secret’ in the Upstate. People recognize the value that we offer and our amazing success rate (85% of SMC students go onto complete their college education elsewhere, compared to 20% nationally for two-year colleges) is evidence that we are doing an exceptional job at implementing our mission. Even though I am moving onto what is next for me, SMC will continue to thrive and provide an outstanding higher education start for thousands more students for at least the next 104 years!”

Keith will begin her duties at Pfeiffer University on July 1. The SMC Board of Trustees will launch a search for Keith’s replacement in the next several weeks.

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SMC’s Phi Theta Kappa to present to Spartanburg Lions Club and Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce

Spartanburg Methodist College is pleased to announce that three members of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society will present at the Tuesday, February 16 meeting of the Spartanburg Lions Club and again on Wednesday, February 18 at the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce before their Workforce Resources Council.

SMC sophomore students Marissa Fleming, Ian Clevenger, and Glory Pi Bonilla have been writing a project about Somalian Piracy, its causes and origins, evolution, and international response to it. The project itself is being created to present at the Phi Theta Kappa Carolina Regionals Conference in March. Their project focuses on universal themes of crime, poverty, joblessness, the gap between political leaders and lower classes, and the importance of a stronger middle class for forging a healthy community. It analyzes how an understanding of the interconnected of these themes in a worst-case-scenario (e.g. Somalia) has had an impact and how those same things relate to problems in local communities, be they Spartanburg or all the way to the national level. At its most basic, the project’s mission is to holistically study another culture to better understand our own.

SMC chapter’s Phi Theta Kappa stresses academic excellence, leadership, fellowship and service. Membership is limited to students who have achieved a 3.5 or higher grade point average, be of good moral character and possess recognized qualities of good citizenship.  Fleming is the daughter of Christopher and Rhonda Fleming of Spartanburg, graduated from Dorman High School and is pursuing an associate in Arts.  Clevenger is the son of Michael and Brenda Clevenger, of Inman, graduated from Boiling Springs High School, and is pursuing an associate in Science. Pi Bonilla is the daughter of Johnny Pi Pascual and Gina Bonilla, of Simpsonville, graduated from Mauldin High School, and is pursuing an associate in Fine Arts.

Dr. Cole Cheek, SMC Professor of History and Anthropology, as well as advisor for Phi Theta Kappa, shared “our hope is that by presenting the group’s conclusions to a variety of individuals, especially those in business and government, it will promote discussion about relevant themes and issues locally.”

DanSynergy VII

SMC proudly presents Ballet Spartanburg’s DanSynergy VII, February 24, 2015 @ 7 pm in Gibbs Auditorium

Spartanburg Methodist College is pleased to welcome Ballet Spartanburg’s DanSynergy VII  to the campus on Tuesday, February 24. The 7 pm performance will be held in the Gibbs Auditorium and is part of the college’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program. Admission is free of charge and the public is welcome to attend.

The evening event will feature an eclectic fusion of dance styles featuring collaborations with regional and national artists and including unique and powerful contemporary dance.  The program will start with a dance piece danced to music by African-English composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor and is based on the works of African-American writers W. E. B. Dubois and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Also featured in the program is a dance work by Cuban Choreographer Nelson Reyes, based on the stories of Cubans trying to immigrate to America. Last in the program is a dance piece inspired by courageous stories of cancer survivors that explores their emotional journey of diagnosis to the triumph of hope and survival.

Ballet Spartanburg’s mission is to promote dance appreciation in Spartanburg County and surrounding areas by providing quality dance presentation, education, and outreach. Since 1966 Ballet Spartanburg has been enriching lives through the art of dance by presenting national and international dance companies. With an ever growing outreach program, Ballet Spartanburg offers lecture/demonstrations, in-school residencies, after school programs, in-school performances, an annual free performance of Peter & the Wolf, summer programs for at-risk youth at inner city housing projects and at the Boys and Girls Club of The Upstate, and performances at nursing homes, hospitals and community events.

Ballet Spartanburg, under the artistic direction of Carlos Agudelo, is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities in the Upstate. Ballet Spartanburg has performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, at the Koger Center in Columbia, at the Peace Center in Greenville, and in Tryon and Forest City, North Carolina.

Ballet Spartanburg produces a four program season that includes The Nutcracker, a fall program, a spring program and a guest company. These productions showcase world class guest artists from such companies as: Ballet Austin, Houston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, and American Ballet Theater, and New York City Ballet. In addition, Ballet Spartanburg performs in several festivals and galas each year including, Piccolo Spoletto in Charleston, SC and maintains an active Outreach Program for the community.  In 1976, the Dance Center was established as the official school of Ballet Spartanburg. Today The Dance Center instructs over 400 students from Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, Gaffney, and Asheville, Tryon and Rutherfordton in North Carolina.