Students - December 5, 2023

Dear Students: 

I am happy to share with you that I have selected Dr. Sebastian van Delden as Winthrop’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs. He will be joining us in his new role on Jan. 18.

I’d first like to offer my sincerest thanks to Dr. Peter Judge who has served in the interim provost role for 1.5 years. Peter selflessly put his own retirement plans on hold to serve Winthrop when it needed his guidance and leadership. He has been the interim provost during my entire presidency and I have appreciated his work, his perspective and his friendship. We will miss him!

Next I’d like to thank the seven-member search committee that brought four qualified finalists to campus. Serving on a search committee is a big responsibility, and I appreciate each member’s willingness to serve. A special thanks goes to co-chairs Joe Miller, vice president for enrollment management and marketing, and Shelia Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs, who added this special assignment to their already large portfolios. 

Finally, I’d like to thank each member of the Winthrop community who participated in this search process by attending the finalists’ presentations, participating in interview sessions and providing me with feedback. I want you to know that I read every e-mail that was sent to me (further thanks for trusting that I would hold your opinions in confidence) and studied carefully the candidate survey results as well.  I am pleased to inform you that Dr. van Delden was the preferred finalist among all Winthrop constituencies. 

Please read more about Dr. van Delden in the release below: 

Sebastian van Delden Named Winthrop Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — Sebastian van Delden, dean of the School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering at the College of Charleston, was announced today as Winthrop University’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The provost reports directly to President Edward A. Serna ‘02 and is a valuable member of Winthrop’s cabinet.

Upon selecting van Delden for the position, Serna noted that he was the preferred finalist among all campus constituencies based on feedback provided to him. He also thought van Delden’s personality, which Serna described as “charismatic, positive and dynamic” would serve the university well. 

“Dr. van Delden recognizes that Winthrop has turned a corner and that our future is bright. As a change agent, he will come into the Division of Academic Affairs and help make changes that will ensure this university’s long-term success. He’s aware of the hard work ahead of him that is outlined in our new strategic plan, and he’s up for it. In addition, he has worked his way through the academic ranks, coming to us as a tenured computer science faculty member, while successfully demonstrating his strong leadership skills and his willingness to collaborate with faculty and academic leaders on key institutional initiatives. I feel like he will be a good fit for our university and our academic affairs division. I look forward to working with him,” Serna said. 

Serna thanked the seven-member search committee, co-chaired by Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing Joseph Miller and Vice President for Student Affairs Shelia Burkhalter, for its important work in bringing the most qualified candidates to campus.

Van Delden looks forward to joining the Winthrop family. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with President Serna and the Board of Trustees, and I thank them for their confidence in my ability to lead the Division of Academic Affairs and serve the entire Winthrop community,” van Delden said. “I could tell that Winthrop was a special place during my finalist visit, and I look forward to joining the community soon.”

He will assume his new duties on Jan. 18. He’ll replace Interim Provost Peter Judge, who came out of retirement as professor emeritus of religious studies, to lead the division until a permanent provost was named.

Prior to his current role at the College of Charleston, where he helped establish its first engineering programs and first doctoral programs, set a historic record in philanthropic giving and reach record high enrollment in STEM majors, van Delden served as an assistant professor at USC Upstate where he was promoted to associate professor, became director of research for the campus, and won all three faculty awards in teaching, research and service. He also served as the department head of computer science and industrial technology at Southeastern Louisiana University for three years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Central Florida. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on artificial intelligence.

Van Delden and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Ava and Bels.