Rev. Mike Royal

SMC Psi Beta Chapter to present “O daddy, where are you?” on Thursday, October 3rd

Spartanburg Methodist College’s Psi Beta Chapter is pleased to announce that the Rev. Mike Royal will present “O daddy, where are you?” Fatherhood & the Ills of Society on Thursday, October 3rd from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in the David Mission Chapel on the campus of SMC. The public is invited and admission is free of charge.

Rev. Royal is a graduate of Liberty University and has a Masters of Theology from Covington Seminary.  He has served in ministry for over 21 years working with students and parents, and currently serves as Senior Pastor at Eastside Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC.  The SMC Psi Beta chapter, chartered on September 1, 1988, is under the direction of psychology professor Dr. Mary Jane Farmer, with assistance from Pete Aylor, psychology professor and Director of SMC’s Counseling Center, and college Counselor Sue Onken.  To date, there have been 376 SMC students who have achieved life-time membership to Psi Beta.

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. 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.


SMC to offer Duke of Edinburgh Young American’s Challenge Awards Program

Spartanburg Methodist College’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development is proud to offer a new awards program to students, The Duke of Edinburgh Young American’s Challenge.  Most societies across the globe place great pressure on young people to succeed academically, but the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award allows youth to develop character and integrity in a non-competitive environment.

The Four Tenants of the Award – Community Service, Physical Fitness, Special Skills, and Adventurous Journey – provide participants with a rare opportunity to better themselves while helping others. The Award program is an incredible growing experience for all who take the challenge to achieve this prestigious honor. Each participant’s Award initiatives are unique to their interests, ensuring the experience is enjoyable and worthwhile.  The Award attracts operational and corporate partners from around the world in recognition of the Award’s values and the incredible lessons it transcends to young people and to their own young corporate employees.

The Award is a unique, daring, and exciting self-development program available to all young people worldwide ages 14 to 25, equipping them with life skills to make a difference within themselves, their communities and the world.  The Award program enjoys success through:

·         Igniting passion and increasing motivation, which improves school attendance.

·         Developing skills and acknowledging achievement in non-academic settings.

·         Encouraging young people to make positive life choices by reducing their vulnerability to drugs, crime, anti-social behavior, HIV/AIDS, and obesity.

·         Instilling confidence and self-worth within every participant through fostering good self-esteem in a fun, nonthreatening atmosphere.

·         Introducing young people to the world around them by making participants aware of their individual contributions and showing how their efforts benefit others.

Over 7 million people from over 132 countries have been motivated to undertake a variety of voluntary and challenging activities through the International Award program.  The Award began in 1956 in the UK but has spread across the globe, and the fundamental philosophy and the Four Section operational format have proved resilient, attractive, and adaptable to many cultures, languages, and climates. The Award remains as relevant today as ever before and experiences record levels of interest each year. Last year, more than 140,000 participants earned a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

SMC is currently recruiting students to participate.  Dedicated participants must spend 6 months completing the requirements for the award.   Information sessions will be held on Monday, September 30th at 5:30 pm and Wednesday, October 2nd at 3:30 pm in the Fireplace Room of the SMC Student Center.  For more information, contact Kim Caton at or (864) 587-4006.

Two SMC students have received their Bronze medal for the Duke of Edinburgh award through the Miss South Carolina program.  Both Nacolle Williamson and Bonnie Walls participated during their reigns as Miss SMC.


Award winning spoken word artist Carlos Robson to perform at SMC on Thursday, October 3rd

Spartanburg Methodist College is pleased to announce that Carlos Robson, an award winning spoken word poet, playwright and teaching artist, will perform at SMC on Thursday, October 3rd at 7 pm on the Judd Residence Hall’s Cellar Patio. The public is invited and admission is free of charge.

As a competitive “slam” poet, Robson has competed in local, regional, national and international competitions, winning the National Poetry Slam championship in 2007 and again in 2008 as a member of the North Carolina based team, Slam Charlotte. Robson has performed in all corners of the nation and on Broadway, and is a co-founder of the Charlotte based artist collective The Concrete Generation as well as one half of the live arts project The Indoctrination Experiment.

Twice nominated for APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year, Robson has performed at over 50 colleges and universities. In 2009, Robson co-wrote and appeared in the play “Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.)” directed by Quentin Talley, which appeared off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

SMC_Seal Reflex Blue

SMC announces Student Government Association Officers for 2013-2014

The Spartanburg Methodist College Student Government Association guarantees student representation within the college community. The SGA is open to all students and includes representatives from the residential and commuting populations. Members of SGA serve on college and faculty committees. The following students have been elected to serve as officers and members of SMC’s Student Government Association for the 2013-2014 Academic Year:

· Preston Morton – President, son of David and Phyllis Morton of Loris, SC, is a graduate of Loris High School;

· Amber Morgan – Vice President, daughter of Jeff and Carol Morgan of Aynor, SC, is a graduate of Aynor High School;

· Miranda Watkins – Secretary, daughter of Nancy and Steven Watkins of Liberty, SC, is a graduate of Liberty High School;

· Sago Thomas – Director of Public Relations, son of Rev. Paul and Jacqueline Thomas of Orangeburg, SC, is a graduate of Orangeburg Wilkinson High School;

· Cameron Thacker – Sophomore Resident Representative, son of Jerry and Cynthia Thacker of Campobello, SC, was privately educated via home schooling;

· Hannah Faires – Sophomore Resident Representative, daughter of Ned and Terri Faires · of Mauldin, SC, is a graduate of Mauldin High School;

· Samantha Reese -Sophomore Resident Representative, daughter of Wayne and Donna Reese of Lake City, SC, is a graduate of Lake City High School;

· Garrett Baquet – Freshman Resident Representative, son of Diana Baquet of Ware Shoals, SC, is a graduate of Ware Shoals High School;

· Adell Gordon – Freshman Resident Representative, son of Shirley and Enrique Gordon of Greenville, SC, is a graduate of Berea High School;

· Hannah Sliva – Freshman Resident Representative, daughter Jamie Sliva and Sean and Tia Cartee of Greer, SC, is a graduate of Riverside High School;

· Christina King – Freshman Resident Representative, daughter of David and Paula King, of Clover, SC, is a graduate of Clover High School;

· Justine Rhame – Freshman Commuter Representative, daughter of Sophia and Eric Rhame of Travelers Rest, SC, is a graduate of Blue Ridge High School; and

· Katie Huff – Freshman Commuter Representative, daughter of Melanie and David Conner of Lyman, SC, is a graduate of Blue Ridge High School.

Spartanburg Methodist College strives to offer a variety of opportunities for student participation and involvement in campus life and the college community. Students are encouraged to participate in clubs and campus organizations, like SGA, that offer opportunities for cultural, intellectual and social growth as well as promoting student involvement and leadership development outside the classroom setting.


SMC hosting Contradance on Saturday, October 19th

Spartanburg Methodist College will host a Contradance on Saturday, October 19th from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the college’s “Old Gym.” From 7:30 to 8 there will be a lesson teaching basic steps for newcomers. Contradance is for anyone, seasoned pro or newbie just learning to walk to music, who loves to dance.

Contradancing is social interaction, meeting people of all ages from all walks of life, and making new friends, set to music. It  is not the same as country line dancing – you do not wear costumes or any particular style of clothes. Tennis shoes or comfortable soft-soled (non-scuffing) shoes to protect the dance floor are quite adequate.  Very little footwork is required; the most common type of movement is a smooth walking step.

An earnest attempt at a formal definition for contradancing would be, a caller (in our case, Tamara McGovern), usually working with a group of live musicians (in our case, Hey for Four, composed of Lucy Allen on guitar, Marshall Goers on banjo and mandolin, Pam Stroll on bass and fiddle, and Fred Stoll on fiddle), guides new and experienced dancers alike through each dance.

Our caller, Tamara McGovern, will teach each dance before it is actually done to the music. This gives everyone an idea of what to expect so the movements can be easily executed. A dancer and his or her partner dance a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on.  Contradance is one of the few dance forms where by the end of the evening you are likely to have danced with everyone!

Contradance is Real People in Real Time with Real Music. It is Real Life. In other words, it is impossible to record the incredible synergy and spirit that occurs when you combine enthusiastic, connected, happy dancers, hot musicians and swell choreography. Ultimately, the only way to learn contradancing is to do it!

So make plans to come to Spartanburg Methodist on Saturday, October 19th  at 7:30 and experience contradancing for yourself.  Admission is $7 for ages 18+; $5 for ages 13-17; children under 12 with parental supervision are admitted for FREE, as are all SMC students, faculty and staff.  For more information, please contact Yvonne Harper, at, (864)587-4278 or 266-7409.

psi beta emblem

SMC Psi Beta chapter elects 2013-2014 Leadership Team

The Spartanburg Methodist College chapter of Psi Beta, the National Honor Society in Psychology for community and junior colleges, has elected the following officers for the 2013-2014 academic year:

  • Stevonna Jeter – President, daughter of Steven and Elaine Jeter, of Spartanburg, SC is a graduate of Paul M. Dorman High School;
  • Tierra Izzard – Vice President, daughter of Lameka Izzard and the granddaughter of Alma and Hayward Izzard, all of Kershaw, SC, is a graduate of Andrew Jackson High School;
  • Kaitlyn Pless – Secretary, daughter of Angela York Kracht of Calhoun Falls, SC and Michael Lentine of Clarksville, TN, is a Valedictorian graduate of Calhoun Falls Charter School.

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 SMC Psi Beta chapter, chartered on September 1, 1988, is under the direction of psychology professor Dr. Mary Jane Farmer, with assistance from Pete Aylor, psychology professor and Director of SMC’s Counseling Center, and college Counselor Sue Onken.  To date, there have been 376 SMC students who have achieved life-time membership to Psi Beta.

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.   Spartanburg Methodist College, founded in 1911, is proud of its heritage of providing “the opportunity to be your best and the inspiration to do great things” and being a member of Psi Beta will give one that opportunity!

All for Liberty DVD Cover

“All for Liberty” film to be screened at SMC

The award-winning film, “All For Liberty,”  will be screened at SMC on Monday, September 30th in the Gibbs Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Described as “Far from being just for history buffs, this is a great film, period,” All For Liberty is the winner of nine international film festival awards, as well as two awards from the SC Sons of the American Revolution and First Prize in Media from The Lady Washington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The film also received the Dove Foundation Worldview Review’s “Family Approved Seal” for movie goers ages twelve plus.

Based on true events, All For Liberty provides viewers with realistic action of America’s hard-fought war for independence…and a reminder of how easy it is for freedom to be lost.   Praised internationally for its universal appeal, the beautifully-photographed, emotionally-moving feature film is a historically accurate tribute to an unknown hero of the American Revolution. Outstanding sound by Jeffrey Stern and music by Anthony DeRitis authentically captures battle scenes with perfection.

Set in South Carolina during the Revolutionary era, the film tells the story of Henry Felder, a Swiss immigrant who came as a mercenary Indian fighter. As time goes on, he settles in Orangeburg and gets involved with the patriot cause and becomes a leading producer of gunpowder for the patriots.

The film is an independent production of the Actors Theater of South Carolina based in Folly Beach, which is operated by Clarence Felder and his wife, Chris Weatherhead.  Felder, a descendant of the main character, plays “Henry” in the film, and Chris, an actress in her own right, plays Henry’s wife, “Catherine.” The cast is predominantly made of local actors based in South Carolina.

Make plans to experience All For Liberty for yourself on Monday, September 30th at 7 p.m. in the Gibbs Auditorium at Spartanburg Methodist College. The public is invited and admission is free of charge.  For more information, please contact Yvonne Harper, or 864-587-4278.

Gabriel Redding headshot

Musician Gabriel Redding to headline SMC’s Founder’s Day

Each October, the SMC Student Government Association sponsors a Founder’s Day Program.  The program celebrates the vision, passion, and purpose of SMC’s founder, David English Camak, and those who have followed his lead over the years to continue to propel Spartanburg Methodist College as a driving force in higher education.

Typically a speaker is chosen from the college’s prestigious alumni.  However, this year the Student Government Association is taking a different route…they have selected Gabriel Redding as the 2013 Founder’s Day speaker.  A pioneer, in the simplest form, is an ordinary person who does extraordinary things.  This year’s speaker is just that.  He is a musician, community advocate, entertainer, athlete, world record holder, and most definitely a pioneer.

From June 7th to July 19th, 2013, Redding ran across America from Santa Monica, CA to St. Simons Island, GA in 42 days, breaking the world record for the fastest crossing of America on foot, and raising over $8,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.  As a musician, Redding has opened for Boys Like Girls, Hinder, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Jason Mraz, Bo Bice, Joan Jett, Gin Blossoms, KC and the Sunshine Band, and has performed in the middle-east for the troops on a USO tour. He performs at colleges and military bases all over the US, coffee shops and movie theaters, and wherever else he finds to play.  From June 29th to August 10th, 2009, Redding bicycled across the continent, from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Seattle, Washington, totaling 43 days and 3204.3 miles to raise money and awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Redding will discuss his record breaking run across America, what inspired him to take on this challenge and share his rich experiences interacting with Americans across the states. The Spartanburg Methodist College Student Government Association believes Gabriel Redding is a pioneer in many ways, and after the Founder’s Day event, he will be an honorary SMC Pioneer.

The Spartanburg Methodist College Student Government Association Founder’s Day program will take place on Monday, October 28th at 4 pm in the Mission Davis Chapel on the campus of SMC. The general public is welcomed to attend this uplifting program.  For more information, please contact Yvonne Harper,, 864-587-4278.

Greenville Brass Quintet outside shot

Greenville Brass Quintet takes stage at Spartanburg Methodist College

Spartanburg Methodist College is pleased to welcome the Greenville Brass Quintet to their Gibbs Auditorium stage to perform on Monday, October 7th at 7 p.m.

The Greenville Brass Quintet was created to advance the art and promote the appreciation of quality brass chamber music throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.  Members of the Greenville Brass Quintet are among the top freelance musicians in the Southeast and are experienced in a wide array of musical settings.  The quintet consists of the principal brass players of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Joe Hughes, trombonist, Phil Elkins and Jens Larsen on trumpets, Anneka Zuehlke-King on French horn and Don Strand on tuba.

The individual members have performed with Broadway shows, symphonies, and chamber groups all over the world, with performance locales ranging from Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania to Europe and Asia.  The music of the quintet spans 500 years of the finest brass literature, dating from the Renaissance music of the 1500’s to contemporary compositions that include jazz, ragtime, and Broadway.

In addition to presenting a variety of concert styles, the Greenville Brass Quintet is committed to educational programs that foster enthusiasm and appreciation for live chamber music.

Make plans to experience the Greenville Brass Quintet for yourself on Monday, October 7th at 7 p.m. in the Gibbs Auditorium at Spartanburg Methodist College.   The public is invited and admission is free of charge.  For more information, please contact Yvonne Harper, or 864-587-4278.


Colleges Unite Downtown for College Fest 2013: Scare on Morgan Square Zombie Dance Party

A Scare on the Square Zombie Dance Party will invade downtown Spartanburg on Friday, September, 13, from 8 to 11 p.m. at the annual College Fest program to welcome the city’s 15,300 college students.

College Fest is targeted to college-age students and hosted by College Town of Spartanburg, a consortium of the seven colleges in Spartanburg (Converse College, Sherman College of Chiropractic, Spartanburg Methodist College, Spartanburg Community College, University of South Carolina Upstate, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and Wofford College) and in partnership with the City of Spartanburg.

College Fest coincides with the beginning of the school year and welcomes students of the seven local colleges to the Spartanburg community. Performing at this year’s 12th annual College Fest will be The Melker Project, a “mashup and remix artist” based in New York City who takes songs people love and turns them into songs they will love even more. The Melker Project, also known as Johnny Cashin’ Out, Skeetwood Mac, Booty Huxtable, Skeevie Tricks, A$AP Scotty and Ricky Exit-Row-Zay, is the brainchild of world-renowned DJ and remixer Scott Melker.

Known for being among the first DJs to champion the mashup style using vinyl – long before the advent of Serato and digital DJing – Melker is known for his mashups and remixes, many of which have reached No. 1 on the Hype Machine Popular Chart. He released The Melker Project (full length DJ mix) in 2010, reaching more than 10,000 downloads in the first week, and his 2012 remixes and mashups “Somebody That I Used To Know vs. Dead Wrong – Gotye Vs. Notorious B.I.G. (Popped and Screwed Remix),” ”Say Hello vs. Because (Jay-Z vs. The Beatles),” and “High for This vs. Pop Bottles (Ellie Goulding vs. Birdman & Lil Wayne) are among the most popular tracks on the internet.

Melker is also known for remixing Mitt Romney’s debate gaffe “Binder Full of Women.” The Melker Project’s remix “Message In A Bottle vs. Mercy” was recently named one of the Top 25 mashups of all time by notable music blog

In his 16 year DJ career, he has played gigs around the world alongside notable DJs and diverse acts, including The Cataracs, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Gloria Estefan, DJ Cash Money, King Britt, DJ AM, Public Enemy, Slick Rick and Dougie Fresh, Biz Markie, Raekwon, Kanye West, Wu Tang, Pete Rock, Evil Dee, Q-Tip, Sheryl Crow, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Ne-Yo, T.I., The Ying Yang Twins, Jet Daughtry and many others. Melker was also a support act on the Summer Haze Tour in 2007, alongside G. Love, Slightly Stoopid, and Ozomatli.

The Friday, September 13, event will feature two free photo booths, glow necklaces, free Coke products and food from several local food vendors as well as a contest for best costume. Beer will also be available with valid id. For more information on College Fest, contact Rogers Brandt Settle,

Dr. Gloor and Ms. Brown

Spartanburg Methodist lights up the night with The Chemistry of Color, Tuesday, September 24th at 7 p.m.

Have you ever wondered why we see colors the way that we do? Or how Fireworks work? Or how you can make a glow stick at home? Well, wonder no more.

Spartanburg Methodist College will present The Chemistry of Color and our resident Chemists, Kathleen Brown and Dr. Brian Gloor, will be there to show you all of the amazing colorful things that a Chemist gets to enjoy. Make plans to come out and partake in the rainbow on Tuesday, September 24th at 7 p.m. in the Gibbs Auditorium located in Ellis Hall. Admission is FREE of charge.

Kathleen Brown is Director of the SMC Learning Community and Director of the Freshman Year Experience, and also serves as an adjunct professor of biology. Ms. Brown holds a B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Biology from Barry University and a M.Ed. in Natural Science from Converse College. Her co-host, SMC Professor of Chemistry Dr. Brian Gloor, holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Texas State University as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame.

In the spring of 2013, Dr. Gloor was inspired to give an assignment to students to let them have fun and get creative. The result was a video that made it to You Tube.

“When you have to take things you have learned and make something from it and give students free reign, with some guidelines, you will be amazed at how much they know and what they can do. I love to see my students work together and take what they learned and put it into context. They still talk about the video and sing the song when I see them. It was fun to be a part of that learning experience,” shared Dr. Gloor.


“Women of Calle 58” dance performance to take stage at Spartanburg Methodist College

Returning to the stage after rave reviews, the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre (ACDT), along with the White Dog Dance Project International, will present “The Decent Women of Calle 58” on Monday, October 21st in the Gibbs Auditorium at Spartanburg Methodist College at 7 p.m.

The production, for mature audiences only, is based on true stories of Mexican prostitutes and on an exhibit created by social anthropologist Christian Ramussen.

In this powerful and moving performance, ACDT artistic director Susan Collard focuses on the humanity of these women’s stories by staging the dances in intimate and familiar settings such as the kitchen, bedroom, patio, etc. Each piece explores what is important to these women, such as aspirations as wanting to make a better life for themselves and for their children, seeking protection for themselves, and developing a sense of camaraderie.

Rasmussen’s exhibit is predicated on his twenty-two interviews of sex servers. In it, mental images of eroticism and sensuality are shattered by the reality of these women’s personal and poignant stories. In order to survive, in order to provide for their children and for their families, each of these women made the incredibly difficult choice to become a sex server.

Eleven ACDT dancers, along with local actresses, will perform vignettes of these women’s incredible stories to contemporary and classical music as well as music composed by Alejandro Basulto. ACDT, a small, successful dance theatre, perform over 50 shows yearly throughout the southeast and abroad. Since its founding in 1979, as Western Carolina’s first contemporary dance company, ACDT’s mission has been to integrate human and artistic connections between all cultures, both local and global.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for the community to come together and build awareness and a movement towards safe and healthy relationships for all individuals and families. Domestic violence touches every person in our community and society as a whole; and violates a person’s dignity, safety, and basic human rights. SMC asks you to stand up as a champion for survivors and join the movement for a safer and healthier community.

Make plans to experience The Decent Women of Calle 58 for yourself on Monday, October 21st at 7 p.m. in the Gibbs Auditorium at Spartanburg Methodist College. The public is invited and admission is free of charge. For more information, please contact Yvonne Harper, or 864-587-4278.

Updated Photo of Dr. Penny Fisher

Dr. Phinnize Fisher keynotes SMC’s 2013 Convocation

SMC marked the official start of the 2013-2014 academic year with its annual convocation ceremony held on Wednesday, September 4th.  Dr. Phinnize J. “Penny” Fisher, current chair of the SMC Board of Trustees, served as the keynote speaker.

Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, the 7th President of Spartanburg Methodist College, commenced the event and shared that on September 4, 1911 the Rev. Dr. David English Camak opened Textile Industrial Institute  and welcomed the college’s first student…a 33 year-old married man who lived around the corner from the college’s first location at the corner or Farley and Brawley Streets near downtown Spartanburg.

“In spite of everyone telling President Camak to close down the college and quit, he persevered and 102 years later we are opening our doors to 525 new SMC freshman and 818 students overall,” shared Dr. Keith. “The little school that began as a ‘cumbersome old wooden tenement, surrounded by others about as attractive…with no inside plumbing’ has blossomed into a full-fledged respected college that sits on a 110-acre campus with 20 buildings, a fully accredited and rigorous academic program, 15 winning varsity athletic teams, a well-credentialed faculty and staff and this year boasts of 453 LIFE Scholars in its student body … that’s nearly 56% of the student body! We have gone from a school that educates students for the textile industry to a College that educates students for a knowledge economy…and we do it well!,” Dr. Keith exclaimed.

The annual convocation keynote address, referred to by Dr. Keith as an ‘inspirational pep talk” that gets the campus ready to move into a successful academic year, was delivered by Dr. Penny Fisher and carried forth the message of perseverance.  Before Dr. Keith welcomed Dr. Fisher to the podium she shared that “Dr. Fisher is one of her personal heroes.” She elaborated that “although Dr. Fisher had achieved professional recognition on the local, state and national levels, she did so after overcoming some incredible personal adversity; explaining that when she was a very tender 12-year old, her mother died of stomach cancer. A year later, her father died of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage. Many children would have fallen apart in such circumstances, and I suspect that Dr. Fisher had her moments of doubt. But her parents had instilled in her a faith and a work ethic that meant she was well positioned for success. She also had a community who cared for her. And education has factored prominently throughout her life – that’s a thread that I want you to appreciate,” stressed Dr. Keith.

Dr. Fisher, a native of Virginia, opened her remarks by stating this was the most emotional speech she had ever delivered and shared it was her very first time talking to college freshman.  She proceeded to give a quick overview  of her life…stressing the importance of students finding themselves.  After her parents’ passing, Dr. Fisher’s older sister took her in and a high school teacher drove her to school. She did well in high school, and was known as a “good kid” and a “teacher’s pet and even  graduated from high school as the salutatorian (yet to this day, she thinks she could have been the valedictorian) of her class.

As Dr. Keith had shared, the odds were stacked against her, especially going to college. Yet there was something inside of her, instilled early on by her parents that guided her to take charge of her life.    For instance, two weeks prior to graduation, a school advisor/mentor pulled her aside and encouraged her to “get married…don’t even think about college…you need security.”  Rather than heed those words, Dr. Fisher used them to galvanize her future, and recalling a Dr. Seuss quote “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” she took control of herself and persevered.

Dr. Fisher made sure she was on a path for college and acknowledged the important role one particular Western Civilization professor’s teachings had had upon not only her the education but her life.  The end result?  She received a bachelor’s degree in post-secondary education and graduated early from St. Paul’s College in Virginia.  And in 1969 she earned her “own security” as an employed teacher in New Jersey earning a $5000 yearly salary.

Dr. Fisher, rather than just making a living, made a difference.  She went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate from Rutgers University and completed post-graduate studies at UCLA and the University of Utah.  Over the years she served as a teacher, reading supervisor, principal, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent of operations, chief of staff and most recently served for eight years as the superintendent of South Carolina’s largest school district, the Greenville County School District with more than 70,000 students and a $440 million budget, before retiring in May of 2012 after a 43-year career in education.

Recognized by her colleagues across the state and nation, Dr. Fisher was honored as the 2011 Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association;  the 2009 Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Public Servant of the Year; as Outstanding School Superintendent by the Career and Technology Education Administrators Division of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators; and was selected as a finalist for the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

However, Dr. Fisher’s most treasured recognition came after she announced her retirement, when Greenville’s School Board announced the construction of The Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School.   Located on the Millennium Campus near the CU-ICAR (Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research) campus, the 179,000 sq. ft. three-story $42.3 million facility will serve 1000 students and feature indoor and outdoor learning spaces that demonstrate specific applications of math, science and engineering.

Dr. Fisher currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Spartanburg Methodist College and has served on the boards of the United Way of Greenville, the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Board of Commissioners for Greenville Technical College. She is also a member of various civic organizations and the Silver Hill United Methodist Church.  She is also the wife of former Spartanburg Public Safety Director Tony Fisher, who retired on August 2nd.

One of Dr. Fisher’s favorite quotes, which she very lovingly shared with Dr. Keith three years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer is: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Dr. Penny Fisher dances beautifully in the rain and continues to teach others to do the same.

Her message was well received by the college’s nearly 40% minority representation. Freshman Korri Dawkins, son of Terry J. and Keisha Dawkins-Hardy (a cancer survivor) of Spartanburg, enjoyed Dr. Fisher’s speech; in particular, he especially liked hearing from a successful minority professional as he himself begins his studies hoping to eventually pursue a career as an art education instructor or graphic designer.

After Dr. Fisher’s keynote address, Dean of Students, Ron Laffitte, oversaw the installation of sophomore David Preston Morton as President of the Student Government Association at SMC.  Preston is the son of David and Phyllis Morton and is a 2006 graduate of Loris High School in Loris, SC.  The ceremony also featured a special performance by SMC’s choir group, the Troubadours, led by Director of Music Dr. Lanny Lanford. Serving as Faculty Marshals for the event were Dr. Katherine Cann, Chairperson of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of History and Dr. Mark Gibbs, Chairperson of the Division of Humanities and Professor of Religion and Philosophy.