Dr. Peter King, associate provost for academic affairs and enrollment management and a biology professor at FMU, began his career as a farmer in Australia, but soon became interested in biology when he was exposed to the wildlife around him.
King, a native of Australia, had already received a certificate of horticulture from Sydney Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Technology in Australia, but his interest in biology was piqued. He decided to go back to school to get another degree.
“Just living in that environment I got interested in it, so I started taking classes in distance education at a university in Australia,” King said. “And the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. I decided to change careers and sell the farm and work as a biology student.”
King started a science degree through distance education. He received a bachelor’s degree in animal biology and geography from the University of New England in Australia. King then decided to go to N.C. State University for his doctorate.
“I was intending to go to graduate school, and the person I would have studied with in Australia came over to N.C. State as chair of the Zoology Department, and then he wrote a little while later and asked if I wanted to do a Ph.D.,” King said.
King went on to receive a doctorate in zoology and teach at N.C. State University before coming to South Carolina.
“I worked there as just a visiting professor for a semester teaching vertebrate zoology, and I was really looking for a job either in Australia or here,” King said. “The job at FMU came up.”
King came to Francis Marion in 1996 as a professor of biology and a coordinator of the biology pre-professional programs. He was named chairman of the Biology Department in 2007 and associate provost for academic affairs in April 2011.
King said that his new responsibilities include a lot of talking, planning and attending meetings. It’s a much different experience from being a professor, but King said that he enjoys it.
“It’s a big change, but an interesting position,” King said. “My role as associate provost also includes director of enrollment management. So a large a part of that responsibility is just overseeing the admissions process and the registrar’s office and financial assistance. They all have their own directors of those areas, so it’s a coordinating role. I get to work with a good group of people.”
Being appointed associate provost hasn’t kept King from doing research projects; he studies the ecology of terrapins in The North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve located in Georgetown, S.C.
“Two students have been working with me through summer down in Georgetown on terrapins,” King said. “It’s mainly a mark and recapture study, although it’s really on the ecology of the terrapins …We also look at their nesting sites and their diet and just really try to look at their whole natural history.”
King will also still teach, although he has taken on the new role and responsibilities of being associate provost. He says he will probably be teaching human biology in the fall. However, his new position will change the way he interacts with the students of FMU.
“It is going to be a change having less contact with students in the class, but so far over summer I have lots of contact with the new students coming in and with the orientation leaders,” King said. “It’s been a lot more contact with students over summer. So it’s just contact in a different way.”