Faculty and Staff - March 15, 2023

On behalf of the provost search committee, I am pleased to announce that four candidates have been invited to campus to interview for the position. During their visits, the candidates will meet with faculty, staff, administrators and students. Each finalist will deliver a public presentation on the topic “Winthrop University’s Future in the Evolving World of Public Higher Education.” Each presentation will be followed immediately by a meet and greet session. I encourage you to attend if your schedule allows. I appreciate the hard work and time commitment that each member of the search committee has invested into this important process.

Read on for brief information on each finalist, as well as the dates and times for their presentations.

Candidate 1 – Laurie Couch, associate provost, Morehead State University

Laurie Couch is associate provost at Morehead State University, where she has been responsible for faculty development, curriculum, program review, academic policy, strategic planning, budgeting, community engagement, and student success since 2016. She has worked closely with the faculty through shared governance to develop numerous new academic programs and revise general education, and through her leadership, student retention and graduation rates increased significantly, completion rates in gateway courses dramatically improved, and equity gaps for at-risk students decreased. Couch is a site visitor for SACSCOC and serves as liaison to the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education, where she is a member of the Council of Chief Academic Officers. She serves on several statewide higher education policy committees, and she served multiple terms in the Council for Undergraduate Research in Washington, D.C. A past president of the Southeastern Psychological Association, she earned her doctorate and master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s in psychology from Mississippi State University.  She has been recognized for excellent teaching and a strong record of scholarship on the role of personality and cognitive factors in the experience of trust and betrayal in interpersonal relationships.  

Visit dates: March 26-27, 2023
Public Presentation: March 27, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Whitton Auditorium, Carroll Hall
Meet and Greet:
 March 27, 4:30-5:15 p.m., Macfeat House


Candidate 2 – John (Matt) Matthews, vice provost, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Matt Matthews serves as vice provost for faculty affairs and academic policy at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). He manages academic policy for the university, colleges and departments, and leads on faculty success initiatives like appointment, promotion, tenure, annual evaluation, and development opportunities like professorships and sabbaticals. Prior to July 2021 he also managed curriculum review and new program development. Matthews has led key institutional efforts such as the new campus master plan, the university’s successful COVID-19 response and the information technology advisory committee. Prior to becoming vice provost, Matthews served two years as an associate dean for the UTC College of Arts and Sciences and more than two years as interim head of the Department of Mathematics. By training he is an applied mathematician studying systems of differential equations arising from problems in engineering and physics. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in applied mathematics and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, all from North Carolina State University. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics at Duke University ahead of joining UTC in 2004 as an assistant professor.

Visit dates: March 27-28, 2023
Public Presentation: March 28, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Whitton Auditorium, Carroll Hall
Meet and Greet: March 28, 4:30-5:15 p.m., Macfeat House


Candidate 3 – Jack DeRochi, dean of The Graduate School, Winthrop University

Jack DeRochi currently serves as dean of graduate, online, and extended learning at Winthrop University. A tenured professor of English, DeRochi earned his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina and joined the Winthrop faculty in 2001. At Winthrop, he has taught a wide range of courses from Writing 101 to graduate seminars on the British novel. His primary research area is 18th-century drama and satire, including his co-edited book “Richard Sheridan: The Impresario in Political and Cultural Context” (2013). He first became dean of the Graduate School in 2012 after serving as associate dean in Winthrop’s College of Arts and Sciences. From February 2021 to January 2023, DeRochi served consecutively as interim vice president for access and enrollment management and interim vice president for university advancement. DeRochi also served as president of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools and on the board of the Council for Historically Black Graduate Schools. He currently serves locally on the foundation boards for both Historic Rock Hill and MaxAbilities (York County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs).

Visit dates: March 29-30, 2023
Public Presentation: March 30, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Whitton Auditorium, Carroll Hall
Meet and Greet: March 30, 4:30-5:15 p.m., Macfeat House


Candidate 4 – Nicole Guajardo, dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, Christopher Newport University

Nicole Guajardo currently serves as the dean of the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Christopher Newport University where she works collaboratively with faculty to manage five academic departments (mathematics; molecular biology and chemistry; organismal and environmental biology; physics, computer science and engineering; and psychology), and one cross-departmental program (B.S. degree in neuroscience). The college, which includes 100 faculty and approximately 1,900 students, is the largest of the four colleges on campus. Prior to this role, Guajardo served as chair of the Department of Psychology and then executive assistant to the president for student success, during which she developed and implemented Christopher Newport’s student success efforts with emphasis on the core advising program, learning communities for first-year students, and enhancement of the Center for Academic Success. She has published several articles related to social-cognitive development, presented her research at national and international conferences, and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. in life span developmental psychology from West Virginia University.

Visit dates: March 30-31, 2023
Public Presentation: March 31, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Whitton Auditorium, Carroll Hall
Meet and Greet: March 31, 4:30-5:15 p.m., Macfeat House


View the provost search website to review the finalists’ resumes. I hope you will provide your feedback via the provost search website following each finalist’s presentation. Each presentation will be recorded and available for viewing behind log-in shortly following each presentation.

Thank you for your interest in our search for the university’s next provost.


Edward A. Serna