Methodist College Board of Directors Dr. James Dire as Chancellor

Methodist College Board of Directors Announces New Chancellor

The Methodist College Board of Directors today announced that James R. Dire, Ph.D. is the College’s next chancellor. Dr. Dire has more than 30 years of higher education experience, most recently at the University of Hawai’i Kaua’i Campus where he served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Dire will begin work as the College’s chancellor on July 30, succeeding Dr. Kimberly Johnston who left the college in May 2017. Dr. Deborah Garrison will continue to serve as interim chancellor and president until Dr. Dire’s arrival.

“Dr. Dire is an experienced higher education leader and will bring a vision for Methodist College that will further our mission of being a premier college of choice in health care and human services education,” said Board of Directors Chair and Chair of the Search Committee Darrin Autry.

“Education is an integral part of our mission and we are excited to welcome Dr. Dire to Peoria. We look forward to his leadership at Methodist College,” said UnityPoint Health Regional CEO Debbie Simon.

Dr. Dire has been active in the community as a member of the Kaua’i Economic Development Board, on the advisory board for Kaua’i High School and as a member of the post-secondary education committee for the Keiki to Career Initiative (P-20). He has also served on the board of directors for the Kaua’i Educational Association for Science and Astronomy.

Dr. Dire earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in earth and planetary science from The John’s Hopkins University, and a master of science in physics and electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida. His extensive education in physical sciences and electrical engineering led him to teaching positions at the U.S. Naval Academy Department of Physics and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the disciplines of Physics and Engineering. Dr. Dire served as a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy for five years. 

A Missouri native, Dr. Dire earned bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Physics and Mathematics from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He will be joined in his move to Peoria by his wife Sherry Lynn and two daughters.

“My parents and grandparents were all born and raised in Illinois, so I am very much looking forward to returning to my Midwest roots to apply all my experience in higher education to lead Methodist College in its next phase of growth and community service,” said Dire.

Located in Peoria, Illinois, Methodist College is a four-year institution of higher education affiliated with UnityPoint Health that is focused on nursing, health sciences, and human services baccalaureate and graduate programs. For more information about the College visit or call (309) 672-5513.