Faculty and Staff - July 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

This summer has certainly been like no other. In summers past, campus would be bustling with Orientation sessions, campus tours and the day-to-day preparations to welcome our students in August. Much of that work continues this summer, just in a virtual manner. 

With Phase 2 of our Return to Work plan underway and Phase 3 approaching, our focus remains on preparing and providing a safe and healthy workplace and learning space for employees and students. As we continue to settle into our new normal, please take a few moments to read about some important updates:

Faculty/Staff Virtual Town Hall on Thursday

As I shared via email on Monday, I invite you to participate in a virtual town hall meeting specifically for faculty and staff on Thursday, July 16, at 2 p.m. Members of senior leadership and I will be answering your questions concerning our campus reopening ahead of the fall 2020 semester. Questions will be accepted in advance through noon today by emailing townhalls@winthrop.edu. Please use this link to join the town hall on Thursday. I look forward to everyone participating in these important discussions.

Facial Covering Requirements

I would like to again convey that Winthrop is requiring all staff, faculty and students to wear masks or facial coverings in social settings, such as in university buildings, including classrooms, residence halls and dining facilities, and in outdoor spaces on campus where appropriate social distancing cannot be guaranteed. Facial coverings are not required when alone in private offices, when alone in on-campus residence hall rooms and when not in close contact with another person, such as walking alone outside. Each employee should receive two reusable cloth facial coverings. Please also note that a facial covering mandate recently went into effect in Rock Hill. The mandate requires people to wear facial coverings in public places within city limits. Those places include restaurants, grocery stores, retail establishments and pharmacies. Wearing a facial covering helps protect us all, so please do your part to keep our campus and surrounding community safe and healthy.

Tillman Hall Renaming Update

On June 19, members of the Board of Trustees unanimously voted on a resolution requesting state legislators to consider an amendment to the Heritage Act of 2000 to allow Winthrop to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of Main Building. As you'll recall, our trustees do not have the power themselves to change the name. That power belongs to the S.C. General Assembly. I'm happy to report that our formal request in this matter has been sent to the legislators for their consideration. As stated previously, we will patiently await further discussion and action, and I will keep you appraised of any steps forward.

Fall Homecoming Activities to Be Paused

Due to continued concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have decided to pause all Homecoming activities this November, including Homecoming on the Green and the Homecoming tailgate. The Division of Student Affairs is considering hosting a spirit week in the spring depending on guidance at that time from the CDC and DHEC. This follows our earlier decision to reschedule for the spring all class reunions that are typically held on Homecoming weekend. These difficult decisions are again made to ensure the health and safety of the entire campus community, including our alumni and visitors. You can read more in this press release.

Commencement Ceremony Latest

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state and in our county, we realize that holding a traditional, in-person Commencement ceremony in August to celebrate our May graduates would be unsafe. A survey was recently emailed to May graduates to gather their feedback on alternative Commencement options that would recognize and celebrate their achievements. Over 33 percent responded that rescheduling the ceremony when it is safe to hold large, indoor gatherings would be their first choice; 24 percent chose an outdoor ceremony as their first choice; and, additionally, 18 percent chose no ceremony as their first choice. We appreciate the feedback, and the Commencement Committee hopes to make a recommendation to senior leadership soon.

Rock Hill Unite Local Relief Program

Rock Hill City Council has been working to help provide assistance for Rock Hill residents and businesses during these difficult economic times. Funding is still available for these efforts. The Rock Hill Unite local relief program is designed to assist individuals and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The program includes residential utility assistance, small business utility assistance, service agency assistance and a small business loan program. More information on the Unite program may be found on the city’s website or by emailing unite@cityofrockhill.com or calling 803/817-5112.

Thank you for making it this far if you're still reading! I know it's a lot of information to take in, but I feel that it's important to keep you in the loop on these topics. Please know that I appreciate your hard work as we work together to welcome our students, and I look forward to our time together during Thursday's town hall. 

Warm regards,

George W. Hynd
Interim President