SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy smcsc.edu) — Spartanburg Methodist College announces the appointment of Kris Neely as interim provost effective January 2021. Neely will take over for Dr. Mark Gibbs, who has served as provost since January 2019. Dr. Gibbs will follow his passion and return to the classroom as a professor of religion and philosophy.
“Mark has done a tremendous job leading the faculty through some historic changes at SMC while always maintaining his focus on the students and what’s in their best interest,” said Scott Cochran, president of SMC. “We appreciate all his hard work, and we are excited to have Kris bring his ideas and leadership to the position.”
Neely brings more than 16 years of experience in higher education, including various roles in administration, to the position. Since 2016, Neely has served as the director of the interdisciplinary studies program and an art professor at SMC.
As interim provost, Neely will serve as SMC’s senior academic officer with responsibility for supporting the faculty and staff in pursuit of distinction in teaching and learning, innovation in curriculum development, and fostering opportunities for professional development. He will also assume the post of interim executive vice president for academic affairs.
Prior to his tenure at SMC, Neely served in various roles at Wofford College, including executive director of the Success Initiative, assistant academic dean, assistant dean for studio art, director of residence life, director of project development in student affairs, and assistant professor and coordinator for the studio art program.
“Dr. Gibbs was a leader at SMC long before he was named provost. He has charted a course and navigated the College successfully through times of tremendous growth, dynamic program development, and a global pandemic,” Neely said. “My hope is that I can continue to help SMC live up to our mission, serving our community, and removing obstacles to student success in college. I am excited for this opportunity and look forward to collaborating with the faculty and staff to continue the success of Spartanburg Methodist College.”
Indeed, Dr. Gibbs served as provost during a period of tremendous growth for the College, both in the student body and academic offerings. Under his tenure as provost, the College experienced its highest growth in student population, surpassing 1,000 students in the fall of 2019. He oversaw the addition of SMC’s first four-year bachelor’s degree program to its curriculum, the addition of an online associate degree, the decennial reaffirmation of the school’s accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the elevation of five adjunct faculty members to full-time status.
Dr. Gibbs has been with SMC since 1999, serving as a professor of religion and philosophy, dean of instruction, chair of the humanities division, director of academic services, and executive vice president for academic affairs.
“As a ‘second career guy,’ I felt a strong calling to teach, and things fell into place to make that happen,” Dr. Gibbs said. “I’m proud of all we were able to accomplish during my two years as provost, but my calling is with the students. I love exploring the questions of religion and philosophy with my students and it’s very exciting to me to get back in the classroom.”
SMC will launch a national search for a new provost later in 2021.