Faculty and Staff - February 13, 2023

Let’s chat!

Last month’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) session was a great way to get to know some of our students who talked with me about a variety of topics, mostly centered around the budget. I’m looking forward to my next AMA session this Thursday, Feb. 16, from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in The Edge. Shelia Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs, will join me to answer questions and have productive discussions regarding the student experience. Please encourage your students to stop by during this monthly Common Time offering.

Other items I’d like to bring to your attention are below:

Fifth-Straight Year at #1!

I am very pleased to share with you that for the fifth-straight year Winthrop has secured the top spot among the four-year state universities in South Carolina in meeting its affirmative action goals for recruiting, retaining and promoting minorities and women, according to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. This is evidence that Winthrop continues to value and prioritize the diversity of its faculty and staff. To see how other schools compare to Winthrop, view the S.C. Human Affairs Commission report

Two New Staff Members

Todd Hagins will be joining the Office of the President on Feb. 16 as the university’s general counsel. Todd brings to the job more than 20 years of experience in human resources, policies and contracts, law enforcement, development and work with non-profit organizations. Read more in this press release about Todd and his responsibilities.

Tiffany Smathers has accepted the director of university events position. A familiar face on campus, Tiffany has worked in the Department of Social Work, and she brings to her new position extensive experience in the hospitality industry. She looks forward to working with the campus community and general public to plan internal and external events.

Please congratulate Todd and Tiffany on their new roles when you see them on campus.

Provost Search Committee

The 12-member Provost Search Committee is beginning its important work, in partnership with Myers McRae, to screen applications, choose approximately eight to 10 semifinalists and conduct first-round interviews of the semifinalists in order to recommend three to four finalists for the position. The finalists will be invited to campus in late March for a series of interviews, a public presentation, and a campus-wide meet and greet. There will be opportunities for the campus to engage with the finalists and provide feedback to me prior to my selection of the next provost. See the website for additional details. Committee members include: Marsha Bollinger (chair), Lisa Harris, Karen Stock, Michael Matthews, Frank Pullano, Jackie McFadden, Michael Lipscomb, Amanda Stewart, Michael Szeman, Jeremy Whitaker, Amber Slack and Amanda James. Thank you to the committee members for their hard work and investment of time in this important process.

New Trustee and Upcoming Board Retreat
The Board of Trustees will welcome its newest member at the upcoming board retreat later this week. S.C. Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver has appointed Winthrop alumnus and local attorney Joel Hamilton ’06 as her designee, and Joel will attend his first meeting during the annual on-campus retreat Feb. 17-18. Joel replaces Julie Fowler ’85, ’88, who served on the board for eight years as the designee of former State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. I appreciate Julie’s dedicated service, and we wish her the best in her new position as Superintendent of Spartanburg School District Three. Read more about Joel in this press release, and please welcome him when you see him on campus later this week. Be on the lookout for the retreat agenda that will be sent via email. I look forward to working with the trustees and our leadership team to ensure Winthrop’s bright future.

Hercules Tires Big South Basketball Championships

The men’s and women’s basketball teams will soon be participating in the Big South Conference tournament. Although seedings have not yet been announced, the tournament will take place March 1-5 at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Let’s support the teams by showing up and cheering them on throughout the tournament. To purchase tickets, please visit the Winthrop athletics website. It is important to get your tickets through our site so we can track our sales. Visit the tournament website to view the schedule and more. Let’s go, Eagles!

Inauguration Save the Date

Please save the date of Friday, April 14, at 11 a.m. for my formal inauguration as Winthrop’s 12th president. While I’m typically not one to enjoy the spotlight, I recognize that an event of this significance will also put the spotlight on Winthrop, which I am excited about. This date was selected for several reasons. It gives us the opportunity to highlight the university’s annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE) event that will be taking place the same day. In addition, it coincides with the beginning of Rock Hill’s annual Come-See-Me festival, so there will be lots of happenings around town for out-of-town guests to enjoy. While the planning is just getting underway, we envision the day to be a celebration of the academic experience, undergraduate research and this wonderful university. I hope you will make plans to attend. More details will be coming your way soon.

Winthrop Award of Excellence
You may have seen mention from Vice President for Human Resources, Employee Diversity and Wellness Lisa Cowart that we are now accepting nominations for the Winthrop Award of Excellence, a prestigious honor created to recognize individuals who have excelled in implementing strategic initiatives. Award selection will be based on the faculty or staff member’s noteworthy contributions to the realization of one or more of the major goals of our strategic plan. Nominations may be submitted via the Nomination Form. The winner will be announced at the Faculty, Staff and Retirees Awards Ceremony that will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.  

As you can see, there’s a lot of great things happening at Winthrop! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students and this university. I appreciate you and your efforts!


Edward A. Serna