Introductory Remarks - January 31, 2020

Thank you, Chairman McCall.

And I really appreciate all of you being here and I most especially appreciate the opportunity to be here as the Interim President at Winthrop University.

Since I moved to South Carolina in 2010 to take the job as provost and executive vice president at the College of Charleston, I have watched from afar what’s been going on at Winthrop. I was fortunate enough to get to know President DiGiorgio and follow the developments that he implemented. I also had an opportunity as my career continued to evolve in somewhat unexpected ways--when I became president at Oakland University and then a two-year interim period at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga—to follow developments at Winthrop University.

And I really am pleased for this opportunity to come out of seven months of retirement –which is, I will tell those who are approaching 30 years, retirement is vastly overrated-- I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue the great things that I think President Mahony has accomplished. The Winthrop Plan has all of the right elements that I can see, looking at the university. It’s a wonderful plan. It engaged the community, it engaged the students, it engaged the faculty. It engaged basically everybody on campus and off campus.  It really has all of the right elements of a strategic plan, and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversations about how that can evolve forward.

I have some accomplishments I would like to make. One is to make sure that the initiatives that are currently underway do not lose their momentum, but they continue forward aggressively, are supported by the president, supported by the board. And that we try to address some things that I know are on the top of everybody’s mind. Certainly, student enrollment, that’s an important thing that we need to continue to pay attention to. Considering the demographics in the United States and even here in the South, it’s going to be hard to continue a growth model for the financial stability of the institution. So I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the provost, the deans, the other executive leadership here on campus as we move forward, and paying attention to the academic master plan that has been proposed to the board.   I think that’s going to be very exciting conversations to have on campus to engage the students, to engage the alumni, to engage everybody in making sure that we are right-sized, paying attention to our enrollment, the projections moving forward and the support that we get from the state of South Carolina.

So I’m looking forward to being very much engaged. My wife, Alison, is looking forward to being a first lady again. She was very involved on campus as a first lady. She’s looking forward to being on campus. We will be entertaining in the President’s House. We are looking forward to having many of you there for various events that we might have. We certainly want to get the faculty, the staff, the students, the alumni and benefactors to come to the President’s House.   

I do believe the President’s House is a nexus for connecting to the history of the university. It’s a great opportunity for students to get a little bit of an intimate feel for the history of the university. And the best way to do this, I think in many cases, is to invite them to the President’s House for various social events where they can have an opportunity to connect to benefactors, to connect to alumni, and connect with other people that may be interested in hearing what they have to share.

I will tell you that we will be bringing our 13-year-old golden retriever. She will be a wonderful first dog. She’s very friendly, so once we have the opportunity to move into the President’s House I hope you will come by and pet Curry. She will lean against you and she will not let you get away without petting her for hours if you are not careful.

So I’m looking very forward to being here, working with the board, working with the faculty, the staff, and the students in a transparent mode, and to really continue the enthusiasm and the good things and the very good initiatives that are currently underway as we move forward.