Winthrop University: Graduate School - The Graduate School Advisory Board
Contact Information
Graduate School
211 Tillman Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
800/411-7041 (tollfree)
803/323-2292 (fax)

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Graduate School Advisory Board for Winthrop University


The Graduate School Advisory Board for Winthrop University is comprised of alumni of graduate programs and community leaders from York and Mecklenburg counties and the surrounding area.  The Board advises the Dean of the Graduate School and provides essential leadership in community relations, fundraising and professional advocacy that benefits students in all graduate programs at Winthrop University.

The Graduate School Advisory Board is currently focusing on the following funding priorities: The Graduate School Innovation Fund, and The Excellence in Graduate Studies Scholarship.


Advisory board members include:  Dr. Jim Johnston, Dr. Dick McCoy, Sherri Clarke, Elaine Whitton Davis, Dr. Shirley FishburneDr. Connie Graham, Debra Heintz, Ben Johnson, Laurie Leader, Chisa J. Putman, Roger Sarow.

Dr. Jim Johnston 

Dr. Jim Johnston 

Dr. Johnston retired from Winthrop in the summer of 2011 after 28 years of service as Professor and Chair of the Biology Department.  During that time, he served for nine years as Director of Graduate Studies for the College of Arts and Sciences, one year as Acting Associate Vice-President for Graduate and Continuing Studies, and two years as Chair of Faculty Conference and Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees.  He returned to the Biology Department where he served nine years as department chair. Upon his retirement he was the first recipient of the Mary Spann Richardson Award for exceptional service to Winthrop University.  He and his wife Karen live in Rock Hill with their dog Lily.


Dr. Dick McCoy

Dr. Richard L. McCoy 
Dr. McCoy retired from pediatric practice in 2001 and entered the EMBA program at Winthrop where he graduated in 2004. Since that time he has taught in the healthcare management programs at both Winthrop University and Pfeiffer University. He is married and enjoys walking, reading, theater, and travel.

Sherri Clarke

Sherri Clarke 
Sherri is a native of Maggie Valley, NC and has lived in Charlotte since 1993. She earned her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from UNC-Chapel Hill and her Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Winthrop University. After a ten year career in pharmaceutical sales, she opened her own business, Lifexcel Carolina. Lifexcel specializes in weight loss for emotional eaters. Sherri is single and lives with her two cats, Ozzy & Sherman. In her spare time she loves to volunteer at the neonatal kitten nursery in Charlotte.

Elaine Whitton Davis

Elaine Whitton Davis
Elaine was born and raised in Rock Hill and has spent over 25 years in Information Technology and Management at Celanese, Hoechst Celanese, and Celanese Acetate. Her positions included IT Audit Manager, Project Manager for global projects (SAP/ERP and Enterprise Solutions, Logistics, Manufacturing Integration, Data Management, Business Support solutions), and Director of Global Business Systems and Systems Support. Elaine attended both the Winthrop Training School (WTS) as a child and earned her BS in Math and Computer Science from Winthrop. Her son Whit, now deceased, also graduated from Winthrop, and the Whitton Endowment in his honor sponsors a best-practice business series for the area business community. Elaine currently enjoys working for Allen Tate Realty in Real Estate listings and sales.

Fishburne, Shirley

Dr. Shirley Fishburne 
Dr. Fishburne counts herself as one of those people that came to Rock Hill to attend Winthrop and never left. Two degrees and 17 years on the faculty later, she is still very connected to the university. Shirley was the co-chair of the committee to restore the D. B. Johnson organ in Byrnes Auditorium and to that end presented numerous recitals in North and South Carolina, and Georgia. For these efforts she was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Arts, an honor she cherishes. She enjoys reading, sewing, cooking, and history in her retirement.

connie graham

Dr. Connie Graham 
Dr. Graham is a three-time graduate of Winthrop University and currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for Kershaw County Schools. In her 40 years in education, she has also worked as a teacher, assistant principal, State Department of Education Official, and Assistant Superintendent for Leadership and Development. As a Lugoff resident, Dr. Graham is active in various church related and civic activities, also serving on state and national committees. She has two children and is married to Dr. James E Graham, Jr.

Debra Heintz 

Debra M. Heintz 
Debra is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of York County. After joining the Arts Council staff 21 years ago, she completed her BA in Mass Communication at Winthrop and was later appointed executive director of ACYC. The Arts Council has the distinction of having hired more Winthrop interns than any other York County organization. Debra and her husband moved to Rock Hill from Lancaster two years ago and love to live, work, and play in the city.

Johnson, Ben

Benjamin A. Johnson
Ben is an attorney and shareholder with Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, based in Charlotte with offices in Rock Hill and Chapel Hill. Ben practices in the areas of business litigation and labor law and has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America since 2008. Ben has served in numerous civic roles at state and local levels, including as Chairman of the Atlantic Compact Commission, Governor's Nuclear Waste Task Force, SC Wildlife Federation, and as Board President of the Upper Palmetto YMCA, Pilgrims' Inn, and York District BSA. Ben earned his BA from Winthrop in 1977 and his JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law. His mother and two of his four sons are Winthrop graduates as well. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf.


laurie leader
Laurie Leader
Laurie is Vice-President at South State Bank. She is a graduate of Winthrop University with both a BS in Business Administration as well as an MBA. She formerly ran a family owned retail business in downtown Rock Hill for 15 years, followed by working as Compliance Coordinator for the South Atlantic Conference for 8 years. She is married to Rock Hill attorney Jack Leader, and they have two grown children.

 chisa putman

Chisa J. Putman

Chisa J. Putman is a native of Cowpens, SC, but has called Rock Hill home for the past 16 years.  She is married and the mother of three (Dmitri, 12; Addilyn, 4; Hunter Grace, 2). Chisa is a 2018 MPA graduate of Clemson University, a 2008 graduate of the Charleston School of Law, a 2003 graduate of Winthrop University, where she earned her BA in Political Science; and a 1999 graduate of Gaffney Sr. High School. Chisa began her legal career as the Owner/ Manager of Chisa J. Putman Attorney at Law, LLC, in which she primarily practiced Family Law and Criminal Law. Upon exiting private practice, Chisa worked for SC Legal Services where she assisted indigent clients in the areas of Family, Consumer, and Housing law. Following her civil practice with SC Legal, Chisa was employed as an Assistant City Solicitor with the City of Rock Hill. Chisa enjoys being in the classroom just as much as she does the courtroom. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at Winthrop University and former Adjunct Instructor with York Technical College. Chisa’s most recent accomplishment was being confirmed to serve as a York County Magistrate Judge. She was sworn to the bench on March 8, 2017 and appointed as Chief Magistrate Judge in July 2019. 


Roger Sarow

Roger Sarow
Roger is the recently retired President and General Manager of WFAE Public Radio, Charlotte, and its affiliated media operations. He has served as president since 1988 and is a native of Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from the University of Wisconsin.  He was a Rotary International Graduate Fellow in Germany and was elected to National Public Radio's Board of Directors in 2008. Roger's wife, Marilyn, is a Professor of Mass Communications at Winthrop. His hobbies include photography, cooking, travel, and carpentry.




Last Updated: 3/27/20