BANNER ELK — Alyson Gill, PhD, has accepted the position of provost for Lees-McRae College. She comes to the college from the University of the Ozarks in Clarkson, Arkansas, where she held the titles of provost and chief academic officer. Her anticipated start date is July 1.
“Throughout the search process, she impressed me with her experience, her record of academic innovation, and her skills at using assessment and data to strengthen the academic cultures of the institutions where she has served,” President Lee King said of Gill. “After meeting her on campus, our community seemed particularly impressed, as well, by her warmth of personality, humor, and her track record of bringing together the community for collaboration. I am confident she is the right choice to lead Lees-McRae academics to a bright and dynamic future.”
Lees-McRae coordinated with a recruiting firm to conduct a nationwide search for the position. The college received a total of 87 applications for the position, with 27 candidates selected as highly qualified for the role. A search committee composed of faculty and staff from across campus and led by King reviewed the application materials and identified eight semi-finalists to interview. Three finalists were then brought to campus to meet with faculty and staff, and Gill was determined to best fit the needs of the college.
Over the course of her career, Gill has demonstrated a strong interest in student success and a passion for using data and technology to drive innovation. Her experience with program building, encouraging active learning, and creating partnerships with other institutions will serve Lees-McRae well as the college seeks to address the challenges of higher education in the 21st century.
“I thought I knew a lot about Lees-McRae before visiting, but I had no idea how it would feel to be there,” said Gill. “The conversations were exciting, the campus energized, the setting spectacular. Lees-McRae is a jewel of a college with such incredible diversity of programs and opportunities for growth, and I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the campus community. I can’t wait to get (literal) boots on the ground, and I am looking forward to being there and immersing myself in the life of the college and joining the Bobcat family!”
Gill received her BA in Psychology from Trinity University, her MA in Art History from the University of California-Irvine, and her PhD in History from the University of Memphis. Her background in the Humanities, particularly in the Digital Humanities, has led to a variety of opportunities for using technology to enhance traditional learning. As a tenured faculty member in Art History at Arkansas State University, where she spent much of her early career, Gill served as the founding director of a digital humanities center. The Center for Digital Initiatives collaborated with the community and local industries to develop 3D models and virtual tours, created a public health app alongside the Arkansas Department of Health, and provided university faculty with the training and resources they needed for research and classroom innovation.
In 2015, Gill became the Associate Provost for Instructional Innovation at UMass-Amherst. In this position, Gill was able to enhance and improve efforts to center education on student needs and develop a strategic plan for the university focused on information technology and incorporating cutting-edge tools into the learning process.
As provost of the University of the Ozarks, Gill launched many initiatives centered on promoting accessibility and boosting learning outcomes, including working with IT to streamline and digitize course offerings with the iPad initiative “Compass,” creating a consistent technology plan for campus, and designing active learning academic spaces containing collaborative seating and writable walls. Gill also launched a program in 2019 to ensure all students had access to course materials and textbooks on the first day of the term.
Gill has shown a deep commitment to engaging with faculty, connecting the campus, and increasing opportunities for students. In her position as provost, Gill oversaw an increase in campus diversity at the University of the Ozarks and developed a partnership with the Bahamian Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), allowing students to take courses at both schools. Throughout her career, Gill has received various grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and numerous research grants to fund her work creating digital models of historic sites and improving campus resources.
As provost for Lees-McRae, Gill will lead the academic affairs team in coordinating, reviewing, and administrating the academic programs. Gill will assist in the mission of Lees-McRae to provide high-quality educational experiences to all students who attend the college, and create strategies for improving student retention and outcomes across the academic programs that fit within the allocated college budget. She will also be the primary representative and advocate for the faculty.