MAY 23, 2011 1:11 p.m. (0)
As a child, Moore moved a lot with his family. He recalls six or seven moves before his father settled in at a church in North Alabama for an extended stay that saw the young man through high school.
“College was where I began to see and understand the concept of ideas as a driving force in life,” Moore said of his undergraduate career at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala. “You have to remember this was the height of the Civil Rights era and I was living in Alabama (arguably the epicenter of the movement in the South).”
The disconnect between what he saw and heard – Montgomery Police Chief Bull Connor turning fire hoses and dogs loose on protest marchers – and what other parts of the country were saying about his home state echoes strongly in conversations with Moore.
Moore said coming to the University of South Carolina Upstate as chancellor after an extended stay at Winthrop and other schools in the region is like going home again, but home to a place where a kid from Alabama started to grow into something far different.
“I was a pretty uninspired undergraduate student. I didn’t have the worst grades and certainly not the best ones.” Moore said. “But my graduate record exam scores were good and I had a connection with USC while at Huntingdon. When the chance came to go to grad school, that was where I went.”
He obtained his doctorate in chemistry at the University of South Carolina and it was that time in Columbia that cemented his love of academia and helped to loosen some of the notions he held as child growing up in Alabama.
“I remember watching Carolina play LSU while I was at school in Columbia,” Moore said. “It was a close game and was obvious that whoever had the ball last was going to win it.”
Carolina came up short in that game, Moore said. He doesn’t remember the score but the standing ovation that fans gave the Gamecocks for playing a good game lives with him to this day.
Coming from the college football crazy world of Alabama the idea of getting close and trying hard being worthy of applause was something foreign to him at first. But he grew to love the concept and it became part of his academic worldview.
For a man with a PhD in chemistry, such leaps of logic and feeling might seem counterintuitive. But Moore, who is nearing his 60th birthday, sees quality of education issues as crucial to his role at USC Upstate as the school prepares for phenomenal growth in the coming decades.
“How a student goes about getting his or her degree is as important as the degree itself,” he said. “I don’t want to see USC Upstate become a diploma mill. I want the students who go to school there to have an experience that prepares them for life in more ways than just raw knowledge.”
Moore’s transition from a buttoned-down chemistry professor to an advocate of multi-disciplinary higher education was gradual.
His academic career started as an assistant professor of chemistry at Georgia Southern College (now a University) in 1978. His wife is a South Georgia girl from Moultrie. They have two sons, both grown.
From Georgia Southern, Moore moved on the Birmingham-Southern College in 1981. There are family ties to the Methodist-affiliated school.
It was while at Birmingham Southern that Moore started his transition from chemistry professor to interdisciplinary advocate. He was instrumental in starting the interdisciplinary Honors Program there and went on to become director of that program before moving on to Winthrop in 1986.
Moore came to Winthrop as the chairman of the Chemistry and Physics Department, a post he held until 1994. In his work developing a Master of Liberal Arts Program at Winthrop, Moore matured as an academic and started his transition from teacher to administrator.
“I think the Master of Liberal Arts development was crucial for me in as much as it illustrated the value of crossing academic boundaries for the students,” he said. He directed the master’s program from 1991 until 2001.
He went on from the masters program to other cross-disciplinary posts and into administration. He was named acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and went on to take the position full time.
Moore is vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Winthrop. He takes on his role as chancellor at USC Upstate on Aug. 1.
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