August 24, 2023

FMU fall semester underway with new programs, record scholarship funding

FMU fall semester underway with new programs, record scholarship funding

Francis Marion University’s fifty-third academic year is underway and with it, a few new programs as well as record scholarship funding.

During the university’s annual faculty welcome event, FMU President Fred Carter provided updates on funding, scholarships, and academic programs.

Carter praised the faculty for their teaching and research accomplishments and discussed appropriations and new academic programs. He began his remarks by applauding the scholarly achievements of specific faculty–including the publication of five books and the receipt of various national and regional honors and awards. 

Over $2.6 million in grant funding has been acquired by the university since the spring, including a $416,800 research grant from the National Science Foundation coordinated by Dr. Ivan Dungan, assistant professor of mathematics, that will be used to research ways to transform healthcare using AI, and a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, acquired by Dr. Deborah Hopla, professor of nursing, to fund nurse practitioner scholarships.

This year, the university received appropriations of $5.75 million in recurring funding and $9 million in non-recurring funds at the state level. It also received an additional $1.1 million in federal funds for scientific equipment, and recently received grant funding for new occupational and speech therapy positions in the upcoming year. Carter praised the generosity of the state legislative delegation and noted that this funding made it possible for the university to avoid a tuition increase for the sixth straight year.

The university is also committing more funds to scholarship funding than at any other time in history. This includes support from the university, the FMU Education Foundation, and other state and federal funding sources. 

“This year, our students are the recipients of more than $28 million in scholarship funding,” said Carter. “This funding speaks to the quality of our student body and the support of loyal donors. Please note that these are scholarships–not loans. It will serve to alleviate their financial burden substantially”.

In the spring semester, the university will welcome students into its newest doctoral program – the Doctor of Psychology. In 2021, the university became the first comprehensive university in the state to be designated a Professional Doctorate University by the Commission on Higher Education. Today, the university is home to the Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Psychology, and Doctor of Occupational Therapy programs. The latter is currently accepting applications for its inaugural class in fall 2024.


Students in the Doctor of Psychology program, as well as those in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program, will be integral in the staffing of the new $100 million Behavioral Health Center which will open on Dargan Street in 2025. FMU is partnering with MUSC, McLeod, and HopeHealth to staff the first mental health facility built in the state in over three decades.

“Our graduates will be at the forefront of the efforts to provide more extensive and innovative behavioral health care to the people of the Pee Dee Region,” said Carter.

In addition, faculty efforts are underway to develop new undergraduate majors in autism studies and criminal justice and a new graduate program in writing.

In addition to Carter’s remarks, fourteen new faculty members were introduced, and twenty-one faculty members were recognized for their years of service to the state of South Carolina.

Those receiving awards in recognition of years of service to the state include:

Ten Years

Kathy L. McCoy, Instructor of Mathematics

Dr. Williams K. Bolt, Professor of History

Dr. Karen M. Fries, Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Catherine England, Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Jessica Burke, Associate Professor of Sociology

Dr. Lorna Cintron-Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering


Twenty Years

Dr. Joe Aniello, Professor of Business

Richard G. Doughty, Instructor of Political Science and Geography

Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Associate Professor of English

Dr. Philip C. Fulmer, Professor of Physics

Dr. Tracy P. George, Associate Professor of Nursing

Dr. Jeannette M. Myers, Professor of Astronomy

Dr. Michael P. Hughes, Professor of Business

Dr. Bryan L. Fisher, Associate Professor of Mass Communication

Dr. Brad R. Johnson, Professor of Business

Dr. Meredith Love-Steinmetz, Professor of English

Dr. Kristofoland Varazo, Professor of Chemistry


Thirty Years

Lisa A. Pike, Associate Professor of Biology

  1. Keith Best, Professor of Theatre Arts

Dr. Gerald W. Long, Professor of Biology


Forty Years

Dr. Barabara L. Holliman, Associate Professor of Chemistry