Eight Converse faculty members were promoted in the Summer of 2021 and will begin the fall semester with their new academic ranks. These promotions reflect more than their classroom and research success — they represent a true dedication to the mission and vision of Converse University.
Dr. Boone Hopkins
Dr. Boone Hopkins has been promoted to Interim President after serving as Dean of the School of the Arts since 2015. In his new role, Dr. Hopkins will carry on previous President Jeffrey Barker’s vision for a Converse education to open the door to transformation on all levels. He is eager to continue to help students create personalized educational pathways that lead to futures filled with opportunity.
His presidency begins at an exciting time in Converse history, as the official transition to University begins and Converse opens its undergraduate programs to women and men.
Dr. Hopkins brings a wealth of knowledge to the role, having advised students in the Division of Student Development & Success, supporting artists in the School of the Arts, and teaching courses in directing, theatre history, pedagogy, and performance studies in the Department of Theatre & Dance. He has been awarded multiple Creative Collaboration Grant Awards while at Converse. Dr. Hopkins has participated in the Senior Leadership Academy (SLA), a competitive fellowship, a year-long program from the Council of Independent Colleges for mid-level administrators.
Dr. Hopkins received the Theatre Department Leadership Award from Virginia Commonwealth University and was honored twice with the Ethel Hines Burch Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching at the University of Kansas. He also received the theatre department’s highest award, the Kilty Kane, for his work with the University Theatre.
Dr. Lienne Medford
Dr. Lienne Medford has been appointed Interim Provost and will continue in her existing role of Dean of Education and Graduate Studies. Dr. Medford joined Converse in 2017 and has been instrumental in establishing Converse’s partnership with the University Center of Greenville.
Dr. Medford currently serves as a Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Board of Visitors member. She has been recognized by the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education as Outstanding Professor for 2016-17.
Dr. Medford is the outgoing chair of the SC Education Deans Alliance, and the principal investigator for the Commission on Higher Education’s Center of Excellence grant at Converse. She also serves on the board of Langston Charter Middle School and represents Converse on the Academic Partners Committee and Board of Trustees at the University Center of Greenville. She has been awarded more than two million dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation.
In 2018, Dr. Medford spearheaded the first doctoral degree offered at Converse, the Doctorate in Professional Leadership. The program was groundbreaking since it was the first doctorate in professional leadership in the state.
Dr. Will Case
Dr. Will Case has been appointed Converse’s Associate Provost for Student Success. Dr. Case joined Converse in 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. In 2018 he began serving as the Co-Director of the Nisbet Honors Program and was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry. He is an avid promoter of technology in the classroom and uses online homework and a “flipped” classroom model to promote student learning. to oversee academic priorities and development for the University and manage budgets to carry the University’s priorities forward.
The Associate Provost for Student Success is a 50% administrative position, and Dr. Case will retain his full-time faculty status at 50%, including the teaching load, as a tenured associate professor. Outside the classroom, Dr. Case also serves as Co-Director of the Nisbet Honors Program with Dr. Laura Brown and will continue in this role as Associate Provost for Student Success.
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. In addition, he was selected as the 2017 recipient of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Excellence in Teaching Award.
With this new role as Associate Provost of Student Success, Dr. Case will relinquish his position as the Chair of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Dr. Doug Jensen has been appointed as the new Chair. Dr. Jensen has been a member of the biology faculty at Converse since the fall of 1999, and previously chaired the department from 2000 to 2011.
Dr. Chris Vaneman
Dr. Chris Vaneman has been appointed Dean of the School of the Arts. In 2013, Dr. Vaneman received Converse’s Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for teaching excellence, and he also serves as Associate Professor of Flute while leading the School of the Arts.
Dr. Vaneman completed his studies at Yale University, where he studied with Ransom Wilson and from which he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Chris holds MM and MMA degrees from Yale as well as an Honors BM from the Eastman School; he has also attended the Salzburg Mozarteum and Belgium’s Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles.
Dr. Lee Givins, Jr.
Dr. Lee Givins, Jr. has been appointed the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Dr. Lee Givins serves the faculty of the Education Department as the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Professional Leadership. Prior to Converse, he served the students of Greenville County as a teacher, coach, and administrator for 28 years..
Dr. Givins academic preparation includes a B.S. in Social Studies from The Citadel, a M.A. in Educational Administration from Furman University, an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership degree and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from The University of South Carolina.
Dr. Kelly Harrison Maguire
Dr. Kelly Harrison Maguire has been appointed Associate Dean of Education. She will continue in her roles as Associate Professor of Education, Director of EdS in Literacy, MED in Advanced Studies and MED in Elementary Education, and CAEP Coordinator.
Dr. Maguire joined Converse in 2000. She holds the BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and the MED in Special Education from Converse and the PHD in Curriculum and Instruction from Clemson University.
Dr. Maguire has served as president of both the South Carolina Association of Teacher Educators and the South Carolina Council of Teachers of English.
Dr. Susana Lalama
Dr. Susana Lalama has been appointed the new Director of the Petrie School of Music and will continue her role as Associate Professor of Music Education. Prior to her appointment as Director of the Petrie School of Music, she served as Assistant Professor of Music and Conductor of the Converse Wind Ensemble for six years.
Dr. Lalama serves as the adviser of the Collegiate National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Converse Chapter. She also serves on the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) executive board as Past-President of the Higher Education Division and is the Editor of the South Carolina Musician, the official publication of SCMEA. Outside of Converse and SCMEA, Dr. Lalama is the conductor of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Dr. Sheri Strickland
Dr. Sheri Strickland has been appointed the new Associate Chair for the Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Dr. Strickland began at Converse as Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 2006.
Dr. Strickland’s research interests include various aspects of Green Chemistry and Organic Synthesis. She and her students explore the development and optimization of microscale organic experiments in an effort to develop chemical methods and reactions on a scale that uses much smaller quantities of chemicals and generates much less chemical waste.
She co-directed a summer forensics workshop called Crime Scene Investigation CSI: Converse for high school students, which explored the application of chemical and biological methods to fictional forensic cases.