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 Minutes of the Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

May 9, 2014

Members present: Kathy Bigham, Karl Folkens, Scott Middleton, Jane LaRoche, Susan Smith-Rex, Bob Thompson, Janet Smalley, Ashlye Wilkerson, Tim Hopkins, Don Long, Mitchell Zais, Tim Sease, Scott Talley, Jamie Comstock Williamson (ex officio).

Members absent: Donna Glenn Holley, Glenn McCall,

Representatives present: Christopher Aubrie, Student Representative; John Bird, Faculty Representative

Representatives absent: None

Others present: Dr. James Williamson, former Trustee; Dr. Randy Imler, Trustee-elect; faculty and staff of Winthrop University; Ian Deas, president-elect of Council of Student Leaders; Anna Douglas, The Herald; Adarrell Gadsen, The Johnsonian; Renee Thomas, CN2;

The Board of Trustees met Friday, May 9, 2014 on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.

Call to Order

Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 11:06 a.m. in the Evans Room of the DiGiorgio Campus Center. Tim Hopkins moved with a second from Sue Smith Rex that the Board meet in executive session for the purpose of discussing personnel, legal, and contractual issues. Don Long moved the Board end executive session, Janet Smalley seconded. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote. No actions were taken in executive session.

The Board recessed at noon.

As there were no requests made for public comments, the meeting continued at 1:10 the Gold Room of the DiGiorgio Campus Center.

Chair Bigham welcomed the faculty and staff in attendance with a special welcome to Ms. Margaret Williamson and Mr. Grant Scurry, the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the newly formed Winthrop staff assembly.

Approval of Minutes:

Karl Folkens made a motion to approve the minutes from the meeting/retreat of February 28 through March 2, 2014. The motion seconded by Donna Glenn Holley. The minutes were approved unanimously as presented.

Trustee Don Long requested time to share a prototype football helmet with the Board. He displayed a sample helmet to show what a Winthrop football team helmet could look like if the Board decides to direct the president to move forward with the creation of a football team and marching band. All agreed the design was attractive.

Report of the Executive Committee and Board Chair

Ms. Bigham reported that the Executive Committee had met on campus on April 23, 2014. Several matters were reviewed and discussed. The materials from the meeting have been forwarded to each of members of the Board. Chair Bigham asked that the Board consider two resolutions:

A. Resolution to Honor Dr. James Williamson for Meritorious Service on the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Trustee Bob Thompson read aloud the resolution attesting to Dr. Williamson’s service to his Alma Mater as well as his dedication to community service. The Trustees wished him well as he begins work as the next president and executive director of the S.C. Technical College System. Dr. Williamson thanked the Board for the honor and good wishes. He concluded his remarks by stating Winthrop will always be his home.

B. Resolution to Honor Mr. Christopher Aubrie for Meritorious Service to the Winthrop Board of Trustees

Trustee Ashlye Wilkerson read aloud Mr. Aubrie’s resolution. He was honored for his good work leading the Council of Student Leaders. Mr. Aubrie thanked the Trustees for the opportunity to serve in this year of great change. He pledged to remain engaged with Winthrop and do his best to keep Winthrop on the rise.

Chair Bigham called for a joint vote on the two resolutions. The resolutions passed unanimously.

Chair Bigham continued her report with an update on the status of the Staff Assembly. To date elections have been held resulting in 13 representatives being chosen. The next steps are to choose officers, create bylaws, and to begin the series of regular meetings.

She urged her colleagues on the Board to read the President’s report that was included in the packet of materials sent to the Trustees in preparation for this meeting. Specifically, she called attention to the Inaugural Week summary of activities on page 2 of the report as well as the update on the Knowledge Park initiative on page 4 of the report.

Report of the Committee on Academic Affairs

Chair Smalley asked the Board to consider two resolutions from the Academic Affairs committee:

A. Resolution to Confer Emeritus Status

Chair Smalley read the resolution for the following faculty Dr. Carlos Caballero, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; Dr. J. William Click, Professor of Mass Communication; Dr. Rory Cornish, Professor of History; Mr. James Scott Ely, Associate Professor of English (posthumous); Mr. Robert Gorman, Professor of Library Science; Dr. Heakyung Lee, Professor of Mathematics; Dr. Susan Lyman, Associate Professor of Social Work; Dr. Ameda Manetta, Associate Professor of Social Work; Dr. Mesgun Sebhatu, Professor of Physics; Dr. Pravda Stoeva-Popova, Associate Professor of Biology; and Dr. Jonatha Vare, Professor of Education. The vote was unanimous.

B. Resolution to Move Minimum Hours for a Bachelor’s Degree from 124 to 120

Chair Smalley read the resolution to reduce the number of hours required for graduation from 124 to 120. This new requirement will permit students who successfully complete 15 credit hours per semester to graduate in four years. By supporting this change Winthrop will help students graduate on time thereby reducing their overall cost of the degrees. The vote was unanimous.

Chair Smalley continued her report with a summary of the newly tenured and promoted faculty. Seven faculty were awarded tenure and 14 were promoted to full professor with an additional nine promoted to associate professor.

The remainder of the meeting of the Committee on Academic Affairs focused on the Key Performance Indicators related to high-impact practices currently underway at Winthrop. Staff are tracking those indicators to document successes and what needs to be improved.

Report of the Committee on Finance

In the absence of chair Glenn McCall, committee member Karl Folkens presided over the meeting and gave the report to the full Board. Mr. Glenn Koch from the auditing firm of Cline, Brandt, Kochenower and Company, P.A., stated he felt Winthrop has a “culture of disclosure” that has resulted in many years of positive audits. He then focused his annual report to the committee on the new regulations taking effect on July 1, 2015 that will require Winthrop to report our share of the actuarial value of future retirement benefit plans. In Winthrop’s case this could be approximately $50 to $60 million. National guidelines and directions from the State will inform us of the amount.

Mr. Folkens reported the Committee had a lengthy discussion and review of the new formats for the budget reporting scheduled to begin on July 1, 2015. These reports developed in conjunction with the Committee on Finance and the staff of the division of Finance and Business will result in better tracking of financial data, be easier to read and comprehend, and will allow for improved financial planning as we begin the next fiscal year. Additionally, President Williamson has designed a new process of mid-year budget reviews of all university divisions to monitor on-going revenues and expenses. Mr. Folkens commended the staff for their hard work on this new process.

The Committee then reviewed the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) related to Finance and Business including the total expenditures per full time student (FTE), our unrestricted net position, and % of students who are Pell eligible. The committee agreed the use of the KPIs will add a measurable layer to future committee reports.

Report of the Committee on Advancement and Development

Chair Bob Thompson reported a good discussion based on the KPIs related to the areas of development and enrollment. For the enrollment area data were presented associated with the number of applicants, acceptances, and SAT/ACT scores. Our applicant pool has not changed much over the last few years. Pell eligible students are at about 40% level. Plans are underway to use these data to put components into place for aggressive plans moving forward. The enrollment management staff have instituted a number of new marketing and development events for admitted students and their parents especially in the larger markets.

The new Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) for Recruitment implementation is underway. Compared to the current system, this new one will be more up to date and dynamic in our recruitment deliveries and will result in better tracking and data reporting that we can use to improve. It is easier to use and will let staff focus on the important goal of building and maintaining relationships with our prospective students and families. All of this should be in place by the beginning of August.

An update of the Distinction Campaign puts its total at $42,553,875. More recently, the Dare to Rise fund raised over $1.2. Now, the development staff are working on a full review and analysis of top donors and possible new prospects to complete the Distinction Campaign and get ready for the next campaign scheduled for some time in the future. The annual spring Phonathon raised $144,000 in gifts and pledges from 1,513 donors.

The endowment currently sits above the $40 million mark. The per student amount is $6,471 as compared to $2,500 at Coastal Carolina University, $10,375 at Clemson University, $17,866 at the University of South Carolina, $76,203 at the Citadel, $4,600 at Application State, and $3,290 at James Madison.

Chair Thompson commended the University Relations staff for all of their good work this spring semester including producing the latest Winthrop Magazine, website, videos, and press releases for the Inauguration, new programs, and World Wide Winthrop day media coverage.

Report of the Committee on Student Life

Chair Talley began his report with an overview of the good standing of our athletes in terms of the NCAA academic progress rate (APR). The APR is calculated each semester to function as a measure of eligibility and retention. The threshold is a score of 925. Teams falling below that score are subject to sanctions. Our multiyear measure shows no team below the threshold and one team, Women’s Golf, with a perfect score of 1,000. Chair Talley encouraged the Trustees to read the Athletics year-end report as it shows a team by team summary of the win-loss record, final ranking in regular season, and the tournament finish.

Staff from the Division of Student Life gave a presentation on campus authority and approaches for responding to students that included a broad overview of the responsibilities of the university to assist students in maintaining proper conduct and control of their actions balanced against the university’s legal obligations. Special attention was paid to the intersection of law enforcement and the Student Conduct Code.

As Chief Zebedis stated the processes and legal requirements governing our campus police for maintaining law and order as defined by State Law is not always the same as requirements governing the student conduct code. The team approach within Student Life for responding to all matters involving student campus issues of concern were also discussed. Special reference was made regarding the expanding role of new federal mandates and guidance (e.g., Titles IX and II) for responding to matters of sexual harassment on campus and students exhibiting troubling behaviors.

Board Officer Elections

Nominating Committee member Dr. Sue Smith-Rex representing the committee of Glenn McCall and Dr. Jane LaRoche brought forth the recommendation of Kathy Bigham for Chair and Karl Folkens for Vice Chair. Both agreed to serve if elected. Ashlye Wilkerson moved the slate be accepted, Scott Talley seconded. The election was unanimous. The new officers will assume their duties on July 1, 2014.

Chair Bigham thanked the Trustees for their confidence in her to lead the Board for an additional year. She stated the Board will need to consider revising its committee structure to accommodate the new and vital division of Enrollment Management. This may result in Trustees being asked to serve on more than one committee in the upcoming year. This issue, along with other possible bylaw changes, will be addressed at the June 26 meeting.

Report from the Chair of Faculty Conference

Dr. John Bird reported on the actions of the Faculty Conference’s last two meetings. At the meeting of March 7, 2014 the faculty passed a resolution in support of academic freedom. The Board was not asked to act on this resolution. Dr. Bird read aloud the text of the resolution as follows.

The Winthrop University Faculty Conference unequivocally defends academic freedom as essential to higher education. This freedom, and the occasional controversies it can generate, is fundamental to the pursuit of truth and knowledge in all disciplines. Legislative efforts attempting to influence or limit curricular decisions at any institution are a threat to academic freedom at all academic institutions.
The faculty addressed changes to the curriculum during the April 25 meeting. The most critical changes were to reduce the number of hours for a baccalaureate degree from 124 to 120 hours and to reduce the hours in the General Education program from 46-58 to 38-53 hours. Both of these changes are geared toward reducing time to graduation and improving affordability related to a lower number of required classes. Moving forward, faculty will be working within their own majors to compare program requirements to General Education requirements. Additionally, next year faculty will review the core General Education courses of Writing 101, Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing 210, and the Human Experience. Finally, the task force on academic integrity has presented a preliminary recommendation for faculty to consider adopting an honor code and honor pledge. Work on that recommendation will continue in the next academic year.

Report from the Chair of the Council of Student Leaders (CSL)

President Christopher Aubrie reported student activity money is still being allocated with the latest approval going to the purchase of portable speakers to be used by clubs and organizations at their events.

Based on lukewarm support of a resolution to urge Winthrop to become a completely tobacco-free campus, the Council of Student Leaders does not have plans to bring forth a resolution on that topic. It did, however, pass a resolution in support of academic freedom. The resolution was shared with The Johnsonian, the Roddey McMillian Record, and the campus community. Plans are to share it with other student government organizations in South Carolina.

Mr. Aubrie introduced the new CSL leaders for next year, Mr. Ian Deas as president and Mr. Jarvais Jackson as vice president. The campus-wide election this year involved 17% of eligible student voters up from last year and above the national average. The goal set by the CSL is to have a voter participation rate of 25%.

Every other year the CSL conducts a customer service survey on campus. Results of that survey are then shared with the appropriate offices on campus. That survey was completed this spring semester and a team of six CSL members met with administrative offices to share the results.

In closing, Mr. Aubrie thanked the Trustees for allowing him to serve as the student representative to the Board. Chair Bigham, in turn, thanked him for his loyal service to the University.

Report from the President

President Comstock Williamson thanked the Trustees for helping her through her inaugural year as a new president. All gave good advice as she transitioned into this new job and the challenges it presented.

The president also thanked her senior administrative team as they were integral to the campus visioning process that began with the president’s opening address, multiple campus forums, focus groups, meetings and culminated with a set of six strategic priorities announced as part of the Inaugural address. The next step will be to promulgate the goals and initiatives to the campus followed by the development of annual work plans is support of the priorities.

The president reported in the next few weeks she will assume direct responsibility for the Knowledge Park initiative by serving as Winthrop’s representative to the Knowledge Park Committee. Based on Trustee requests, an update of the work to date and near term work will be provided at the Board meeting on June 26. Representatives from Sora-Phelps will be invited to meet with the Board on the 26th. The first project the Board will be asked to decide upon is likely to be a plan for expanded Winthrop student housing. This decision may be as soon as October. The decision on a learning center for adult and graduate students is expected take longer as we must first develop a plan on how best to serve adult students.

Turning to International Exchange Programs, the president reminded the Board of the eight current exchange programs we now have that do not require extra tuition; Winthrop students pay their regular tuition and are permitted to attend a semester abroad at one of the eight universities with the exchange programs. Since this is a most affordable way for our students to experience a semester abroad, we are looking for ways to expand this type of exchange program. To that end, the president will be attending a week-long partners’ meeting at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England to ascertain the goodness of fit of that program with our student needs. Harlaxton College was chosen as a possibility due to the number of core courses taught in English, availability of economical travel to England, and the College does have opportunities for our faculty to teach there for a semester.

Based on the most recent enrollment data, the president reported our retention numbers are trending upward. Over 100 additional returning students have registered for fall classes as compared to last year at this time. Faculty and staff across campus are working hard to increase retention as well as increase the number of in-coming freshman.

Executive Session

Karl Folkens moved, Bob Thompson seconded that the Board go into Executive Session for discussion of personnel and contractual issues. Kimberly Faust was invited to join the meeting. Mitchell Zais moved with a second from Janet Smalley the Board end the executive session. The motion passed unanimously. No actions were taken in executive session.

Old Business None

New Business None


Hearing no objections, Ms. Bigham adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Kimberly Faust, Secretary to the Board


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