Faculty and Staff - December 4, 2023

As we sprint to the finish line for the fall semester, I was happy to have the Winthrop University Board of Trustees on campus last week. They had an up-close look at enrollment, athletics and retention strategies, received a report on academic programs, and engaged with a variety of education students (including Macfeat kids and WinthropLIFE participants) in a fun deep dive on the Riley College of Education, Sport and Human Sciences.  

Perhaps the most consequential action the board took was unanimous approval of the key outcomes and priorities of the strategic planning process after a presentation by Special Assistant for Community Engagement Gary Simrill. Strategic Planning and Facilities Committee Chair Ed Driggers conveyed excitement and appreciation for all the work done to date by the strategic planning committee and said the board looks with anticipation toward the objectives and tactics already being formulated, as well as the administration’s implementation strategy and accompanying timeline. We are looking to an early 2024 roll out of the full strategic plan.  

In other unanimous board action:

·     Trustees approved my selection of a new provost (more on that in an announcement tomorrow);

·     They gave Vice President of Business Affairs and CFO Justin Oates the green light to renegotiate the institution’s contract with Sodexo to move to a fixed fee contract. This change was at the recommendation of the state procurement office to restructure the contract to match today’s enrollments and will impact the contract years through 2027. As our enrollment increases, this fee structure will be more beneficial to us (more than the current contract) while allowing Sodexo to return a profit which they have been unable to do in the current inflationary environment; and

·     The board considered options for tuition realignment after Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing Joe Miller’s Thursday presentation on the institution’s tuition transparency initiative. With additional financial information from VP Oates and recommendation from me, they voted on a model which will include a modest tuition reduction to all students in the first year and then the option for another reduction in year two if freshman/transfer yield increases (as expected) and retention stays strong. This strategy will help us serve more students and families who are particularly price sensitive and do not consider attending Winthrop given our current cost as compared with other public institutions in the state. 

The board resolutions on these items will be available at this link later this week.

As always, thank you for your interest in the activities of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees.


Edward A. Serna