Converse announces the promotion and award of tenure for the following faculty members, as approved by the Board of Trustees in February:
- Dr. Will Case – promoted to associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and awarded tenure
- Dr. Susanne Gunter – promoted to associate professor of art and awarded tenure
- Dr. Julie Jones – promoted to associate professor of education and awarded tenure
- Dr. Chandra Owenby Hopkins – promoted to associate professor of theatre and awarded tenure
- Dr. Valerie MacPhail – promoted to associate professor of music and awarded tenure
- Dr. Erin Templeton – promoted to professor of English
Dr. William C. Case came to Converse in 2015 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He holds the BS in Chemistry and the AB in Spanish from Duke University. His PhD in Chemistry was earned at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Case teaches general chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and a variety of other courses. He is a promoter and user of technology in the classroom, helping to lead Converse’s integration of augmented and virtual reality into science instruction.
Dr. Case’s research interests fall within the broad areas of separation science, spectroscopy, electrochemistry and chemical education. His research at Converse, which he has developed with student researchers, explores the development of first-generation biosensors for the detection of galactose and other small molecules implicated in various molecular diseases. His work’s goal is to identify potential biosensor components that can serve as templates for targeting an array of biological analytes.
During his first year at Converse, Dr. Case was awarded a $127,000 DRP Target Faculty Grant from the SC IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence. He has gained additional grants since then. In addition, he was selected as the 2017 recipient of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Excellence in Teaching Award. He currently serves as a Counselor for the South Carolina Academy of Science and is an active member of the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Case is an extremely effective teacher, someone who combines rigor and a very approachable manner in one of the more difficult disciplines for undergraduates. He mentors student researchers on a regular basis. In addition, he has served on most major committees, appointed and elected, during his years at Converse. He currently co-directs the Nisbet Honors Program, the review and revision of which he helped lead in 2017-2018.
Dr. Susanne Gunter, chair of the department of art and design, came to Converse in 2010 and became a full-time faculty member in 2013. She earned her BA in Studio Art at Limestone College, her IMA in Art Education at the University of South Carolina, and her EdD in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Gunter has been active in the field of arts and education for more than 30 years. She received the 2015 Higher Education Level Award by the South Carolina Art Education Association and numerous awards in her 21 years as a classroom art teacher, including the Union High School Teacher of the Year, Union County Teacher of the Year, Dorman High School Teacher of the Year, South Carolina Art Education Association Secondary Art Teacher of the Year, and South Carolina Art Education Association Art Educator of the Year. She authored The History of the South Carolina Art Education Association and has published numerous articles.
Dr. Gunter has teaching and administrative experience at all levels of art education. As a practicing artist, she exhibits locally and regionally. She is a member of the Union County Arts Council, Cherokee Alliance for Visual Artists, Spartanburg Artists’ Guild and a former Guild Gallery Director. Dr. Gunter has served on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union Counties and was an art consultant to several schools and districts.
Dr. Gunter has been a strong, effective department chair, supporting Converse’s art programs through numerous, successful specialized accreditation reviews, chairing search committees for faculty, and assessing and revising department plans and curricula. She has served on numerous college committees, including in major elected positions. She has expanded and strengthened classes in Art Education, preparing numerous students for their turn in the classroom.
Dr. Julie Jones came to Converse in 2014 with teaching experience in the general and special education classroom at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels. Dr. Jones earned her BA in Special Education from Converse College, her MA in Educational Administration and School Leadership from the University of South Carolina, and her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Clemson University. Dr. Jones is a highly effective classroom teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
She has research interests in instructional technology, motivation theory, and validated instructional practices for students who are at risk. Dr. Jones frequently speaks at conferences and workshops, focusing on developing a digital, one-to-one educational experience for students. She is a Google Certified Educator, providing regular training for K12 educators on technology integration, and she serves as the Executive Editor for the Teacher Education Journal of South Carolina, a South Carolina Association of Teacher Educators (SCATE) publication.
Dr. Jones has served on numerous college committees, including in elected posts on the faculty’s most important committees. In addition, she is Converse’s Director of Student Teaching, where she ensures that students have the practical teaching experiences necessary to succeed. As part of this work, she coordinates Converse’s partnership with Meeting Street Academy, guiding Converse students through challenging field experiences with elementary age students, experiences that have resulted in employment for Converse students after graduation.
Dr. Chandra Owenby Hopkins came to Converse in 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre with highest honors from Brenau University, her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Pedagogy with a specialization in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Kansas. While completing her doctorate, she received the Joseph R. Roach Doctoral Research Award, the Kuhlke Humanitarian Award, and the Hines Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award. Dr. Hopkins teaches a variety of Theatre courses at Converse, where she is known for her energetic, creative, and very effective teaching.
Chandra Owenby Hopkins
Dr. Hopkins is an actor, director, and dramaturg, and in those roles has directed multiple very successful productions at Converse, acted in others, and served as dramaturg for yet other productions. As a professional artist, she has served in the same roles with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance, Richmond Triangle Players, Kansas Summer Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare, and Tennessee Shakespeare Company.
Dr. Hopkins is that rare professional artist who also presents and publishes high-level scholarly work. She has presented at the American Society for Theatre Research, the Southern American Studies Association, the Mid-America Theatre Conference, and the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Her primary areas of research include Southern studies, gender studies, and American popular culture. Her reviews and articles have appeared in Theatre Survey, Theatre Annual, and in the book collection, Performing Objects and Theatrical Things.
Of special note is her work with Converse students and the local community in devised theatre, original productions that she and the students create and produce, combining theatrical production with service learning that benefits the broader community. Her first devised theatre performance piece, The Home Project, explored issues of home and homelessness in the Upstate. This spring’s production, Growing Old: Food and Oral History in Performance, is supported by a grant from the Council of Independent Colleges and the AARP Foundation.
Dr. Hopkins has served on several faculty committees and on most of the major, elected committees. In addition, she has organized, produced, and directed musical and theatrical components of major campus events, has worked on critical campus task forces, has served Converse as a Title IX investigator, and currently serves as the Faculty Athletic Representative, an NCAA-designated and time-consuming role.
Dr. Valerie MacPhail came to Converse in 1994. Dr. MacPhail earned her BA from The College of William and Mary, her Master of Music degree from Florida State University, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina. She is currently the coordinator of the voice faculty and also serves as Director of the Lawson Academy of the Arts. Her students, ranging from younger students in the Lawson Academy to graduate students, have been successful in national and local competitions, winning the Hal Leonard Art Song Competition and advancing to the national semi-finals in the National Student Auditions of the NATS organization (National Association of Teachers of Singing).
Others have been accepted at prestigious music schools, including the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music.
A gifted soprano, she has given dozens of vocal recitals at colleges throughout the country. She frequently incorporates chamber pieces into her programs, collaborating with instrumental colleagues, including Converse clarinetist Karen Hill. Her creative programs have included a multi-media, multi-performer exploration of songs on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In recent years, she has traveled to Cuba and to China, where she gave several performances and presented vocal masterclasses to students and young professionals.
Dr. MacPhail has appeared with the South Carolina Opera Theatre, The Spartanburg Repertory Company, and the Converse Opera Theatre. Roles include the Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone, and Donna Ximena in Gazzaniga’s Don Giovanni. She created the role of Beatrix Trenholm in the world premiere of To Him Who Waits, by Dr. S. David Berry, Petrie School of Music faculty member and composer, and recently appeared in the world premiere of Troiades, also by Dr. Berry. Working in musical theatre as well, Dr. MacPhail’s credits include the role of The Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Mrs. Nordstrom in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.
Dr. Erin E. Templeton, the Anne Morrison Chapman Distinguished Professor of International Study and associate professor of English at Converse, came to Converse in 2007. Dr. Templeton earned her BA and MA from Pennsylvania State University, University Park and her PhD in American Literature and twentieth-century British and Irish literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, she served as the English Coordinator for the Center for Community Learning; she was elected to the University Collegium of Teaching Fellows, and she was awarded the English Department award for pedagogical excellence.
Dr. Templeton is a highly skilled teacher who holds her students to high standards while inviting them to join her in the exploration of literature. She received the South Carolina Independent Colleges Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.
Dr. Templeton was a National Endowment for the Humanities Accessible Futures Grant Recipient in 2015. She also received the Cato Award for Faculty Excellence from Converse in 2018. She has received many external and internal grants that focus on her work in digital humanities and help her integrate her professional scholarly activity and her teaching.
Dr. Templeton’s research interests include transatlantic modernism, the intersections of authorship and gender in early twentieth-century literature, and textual studies. She has published essays on the gender dynamics of authorial collaboration in William Carlos Williams’s long poem “Paterson” as well as on Ezra Pound’s relationship with early twentieth-century pianist and composer, George Antheil. In addition, she has written about The Waste Land, The Sound and the Fury, The Sun Also Rises, and W. B. Yeats’s esoteric text, A Vision. She serves as Chair of Membership and Elections for Modernist Studies Association Board of Directors and was President of the Williams Carlos Williams Society from 2012-2014.
In addition to her presentations and her published work, Dr. Templeton is an active public scholar, breaking new ground in digital humanities and advancing that field beyond professional scholarly circles. You can read Dr. Templeton’s thoughts on higher education and academia at ProfHacker, a Chronicle of Higher Education blog.
She has contributed to the life of the College in many ways, including serving on nearly all of the major faculty committees and on all major elected committees. She also serves as the Director of International Studies and in that role has greatly expanded and developed an international study program for Converse students.