UofSC selects Missouri dean as new provost

Leaving the legal profession to pursue a career in academia was a tough, but life-changing experience for Joan T.A. Gabel. “We prepare students for success, we answer questions and we positively impact our community at home and around the world — where else can you say that?"

Gabel was named new executive vice president of academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina on Tuesday (July 28). Gabel fits the high bar set by university President Harris Pastides when the provost search first launched — a visionary leader deeply committed to educational excellence, faculty development and inclusiveness.

Gabel will come to Columbia, S.C., via Columbia, Mo., where she has served as dean of the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business since 2010. She will officially begin at Carolina on Aug. 24, pending formal approval by the board of trustees.

“As the University of South Carolina takes on greater statewide, national and global leadership roles, it is imperative that our new provost bring the advanced skills and vision necessary to keep our remarkable momentum moving forward,” Pastides said.  “Joan Gabel is that person. I know the Carolina family will join me in welcoming this innovative and dynamic leader to our community.”

Pastides noted Gabel’s deft stewardship of the college of business as well her reputation as a consensus builder who can shepherd positive change.

She joins UofSC during a period of unprecedented growth and the successful conclusion of its $1 billion Carolina’s Promise capital campaign. The provost oversees the 16 schools and colleges on the Columbia campus, university libraries as well as the Palmetto College campuses and is charged with the overall leadership of academic affairs of the university.

Among her chief accomplishments at Missouri was planning for a new business building centered on experiential learning. The project required securing private funds during lean budget times, a process that she says helped reinforce the need for flexibility and ingenuity in higher education. Gabel said her meetings with Pastides, faculty members and other UofSC leaders convinced her that the university is well-positioned to build on its existing reputation for cutting-edge research and innovative teaching.

“All of higher education, and especially public higher education, is undergoing rapid change,” Gabel said. “It’s a very competitive landscape and there are many challenges. But there are also opportunities that we can take advantage of to ensure that students receive the best education possible and faculty can continue to expand their research impact."

In announcing Gabel’s appointment, Pasides also praised interim provost Helen Doerpinghaus for her steady leadership. Doerpinghaus has served as interim since April and will continue in her role as senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies.

Gabel, who was raised in Atlanta and holds a law degree from the University of Georgia, is not a stranger to the Palmetto State. Her family owns a home on the coast and her husband, Gary, is a graduate of Columbia’s Spring Valley High School. A sister-in-law is also a UofSC alumna. “We still have family in South Carolina, so in some ways this feels like a homecoming,” she said.

For the Gabels, teaching and learning are family pursuits. Gary Gabel is a K-12 school administrator who has worked in elementary and middle schools. Gabel says she didn’t always plan on becoming an academic, however, and was a practicing attorney at an Atlanta law firm in the mid-1990s when she decided to make a change.

“I sought advice from a mentor and he recommended I explore teaching and research," she said. "It turned out to be the best professional decision I've ever made. I love higher education, not only because you are surrounded by highly intelligent, passionate people, but also because it's a place where ideas become reality and have a true multiplier effect.”

Joan T.A. Gabel

Gabel served as dean of the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business for five years. While at Missouri, Gabel was named a “shining star” by The Wall Street Journal and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bunche, Kemper and Holmes-Cardozo awards for Excellence in Research. Before joining the University of Missouri, she served as a DeSantis Professor and Chair of the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate & Legal Studies at Florida State University’s College of Business and as director of international relations for the College of Business. Gabel also served on the faculty of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University for 11 years, where she was interim director of the Institute of International Business and faculty director of the Atlanta Compliance and Ethics Roundtable. She has also served as editor-in-chief of the American Business Law Journal.

Raised in Atlanta, Gabel earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia.

She and her husband, Gary, have three children: a daughter who is a rising junior at the University of Missouri; a son who is a rising high school senior; and another son who is a rising eighth-grader.

Responsibilities of the Provost

In academia, the provost position is crucial to the success of a university. The provost at UofSC is charged with the oversight of the university’s graduate and undergraduate academic programs as well as curriculum development, program assessment and university accreditation. The provost also is responsible for formulating and implementing systemwide academic affairs policies relating to faculty hiring, retention, tenure, promotion and development.

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