Faculty and Staff - September 17, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

The fall semester is well underway, and I want to thank you for your part in helping the university have such a smooth and successful start to the academic year. Your participation in Convocation, Welcome Week and other events extended a warm Winthrop welcome to our new students. I’m confident that same spirit of camaraderie will serve our students well in the classroom and beyond this semester.

I wanted to take just a moment to update you on a handful of items. This month’s key takeaways include:

Constitution Day

Today we celebrate Constitution Day, commemorating the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. I penned an op ed recently about my personal connection to Constitution Day and my pride at leading an institution that helps ensure our students see where we’ve been as a nation and where we are headed. I am pleased that John Holder from the Department of Political Science will be giving our annual address at 11 a.m. in Dina’s Place. The talk will be about “The Constitution, Redistricting, and Gerrymandering.” Please attend if you are able.

Campus Safety Week

We are in the middle of our first week of activities to help shine a light on the many and varied aspects of our safety and security for the coming year. I encourage everyone to attend as many of the offerings as you can this week. I would again like to thank the team responsible for this campus-wide emphasis on safety, led by Shelia Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs.

Office of the Ombuds

Last month I mentioned that we were making progress on the Office of the Ombuds. You may recall that Winthrop having such a position has been discussed for a few years and most recently was endorsed by both the faculty and staff conferences, as both bodies concurred that an ombuds would enhance employee satisfaction.

The ombuds serves as an independent, confidential, and informal resource for any Winthrop faculty, staff or administrator who voluntarily seeks assistance in identifying available options, facilitating productive communication, and bringing forth concerns about university policy or procedures.

I am pleased to announce that the office has been approved and that the Ombuds Advisory Committee will soon be formed. The committee will consist of five voting members: chairs of faculty and staff conferences who are ex-officio, one voting member of administration appointed by me (Lisa Cowart will be my appointee), one member chosen from the Faculty Conference at large, and one member chosen from the Staff Assembly at large.  

This committee will collaborate on an ad for the internal search process, review applications, recommend top candidates, and establish a start date for the position. The position will allow for release time so that the faculty or staff member appointed will be able to perform the position’s duties. For more information on the office and position, please visit the policy repository.

Alessia Cara Concert

I am very excited Winthrop will be hosting singer/songwriter and Grammy winner Alessia Cara on October 4. When members of our community talk about wanting to have more shows with wide appeal and bigger name acts, we have to prove to promoters and others that the Winthrop community will turn out for these events. So I hope many will attend. There’s a link on the homepage for more information, and a discount code is available.

State of the University Address Invitation

Finally, while a more formal email invitation will be coming to you, I would like for you to save the date of Tuesday, Oct. 29, for the university’s fourth annual State of the University address. During my 11:15 a.m. presentation in Richardson Ballroom, I will update you on our Winthrop Plan progress and share additional information related to our campus-wide strategic plan efforts.

As always, thank you for all that you do for Winthrop. I appreciate your support as we work together on Winthrop’s behalf.