Winthrop University: Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees
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Board of Trustees
114 Tillman Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2225
803/323-3001 (fax)
trustees@winthrop.edu

Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Friday, February 19 & Saturday, February 20, 2021| 11:10 a.m.
Richardson Ballroom| DiGiorgio Campus Center
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC


Members present: Glenn McCall, Gary Williams, Kathy Bigham, Robby Sisco, Isaiah Venning, Jane LaRoche, Janet Smalley, Tim Hopkins, Randy Imler, Ed Driggers, Ashlye Wilkerson, Julie Fowler, Tim Sease, Sandra Stroman, John Brazell, President George W. Hynd (ex-officio)


Members absent: None


Representatives present: Brandon Jackson


Representatives absent: Adolphus Belk, Jr. (viewed meeting virtually but did not participate)


Others present: Media representatives included Alex Zietlow from the Herald, Chase Duncan and Bryn Smith from the Johnsonian, Matt Kreh from WRHI.


The Board of Trustees met on Friday, February 19 & Saturday, February 20, 2021on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.


Call to Order


Chair McCall called the meeting to order at 11:07 a.m. He welcomed all present and delivered an invocation.


Executive Session


Robby Sisco moved with a second from Jane LaRoche to move into executive session pursuant to South Carolina Ann. §30-4-70(a)(1) and (2) for the purpose of discussions of personnel issues and legal matters. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. President Hynd, Glenn McCall, and Kathy Bigham recused themselves from the executive session. Kimberly Faust and Caroline Overcash were invited to remain for the executive session.


Ashlye Wilkerson moved to end executive session. Ed Driggers seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session.

Recess


Chair McCall recessed the meeting at noon with plans to resume at 1:00 p.m.


Return to Meeting


Chair McCall reconvened the meeting at 1:10 p.m.


Approval of Minutes of September 25, 2020 (revised) and November 6, 2020


Julie Fowler moved to accept the minutes as written. John Brazell seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous in favor of the minutes as written.


Executive Session


Randy Imler moved with a second from Tim Hopkins to move into executive session pursuant to South Carolina Ann. §30-4-70(a)(1) and (2) for the purpose of discussions of personnel issues and legal matters. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.


Greg FitzGerald, Todd Lumpin, Tyler Lewis, Chris Johnson, Justin Oates, and Kimberly Faust were invited to remain for portions of the executive session.


Tim Hopkins moved to end executive session. Sandra Stroman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session with a report.


Before continuing with the report from Executive Session, Mr. McCall asked Mr. Eduardo Prieto to stand and be recognized for his service to Winthrop University as the Vice President of Access and Enrollment. Mr. McCall and the Trustees thanked Mr. Prieto for his work on the University’s behalf and wished him well as he begins the next phase of his career at the University of Mississippi.


Mr. Tim Sease reported on the anonymous compliant that was reviewed in Executive Session.


Robby Sisco made the following motion: The Winthrop Board of Trustees has evaluated a confidential personnel matter and found no evidence of wrongdoing nor grounds to substantiate an investigation. The motion was seconded by Tim Hopkins. Glenn McCall and Kathy Bigham recused themselves from the vote. The remaining Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the motion.


Report from the Committee on Finance


Chair Randy Imler brought forth a resolution to direct the university to seek up to $21 million in revenue bonds.

The Finance Committee, with input from members of the Winthrop Real Estate Foundation Board, Committee on Finance reviewed a wide array of information and data related to deferred maintenance needs in auxiliaries as well as the determination of appropriate financing for those needs as well as the ongoing auxiliary maintenance need. They took into consideration the short-term and long-term on‐campus housing needs and reviewed data related to the cafeteria study conducted in 2017 as a way to determine if need exists to either renovate or construct a new food service facility, estimate gross and net costs, and financing strategy. At the same time, the Committee and the Winthrop Real Estate Board reviewed data related to the financing structure of the Courtyard related to possible refinancing.


The Committee on Finance recommended that the University move forward with debt issuance up to $21 M in financing debt issuance to support auxiliary housing and dining facilities.


The motion did not need a second as it was from the Committee on Finance. Chair McCall called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.


Next, the Committee on Finance brought forth a motion to hold summer school 2020 tuition rates through the summer session of 2021. They proposed continuing the same additional 10% discount for Summer Session 2021, following the exact same plan as Summer 2020. At the onset of COVID-19, in recognition of the financial challenges facing our students and their families, Winthrop approved a plan to offer 10% discount off tuition for all courses taken during Summer Session 2020—including undergraduate, graduate, and graduate online. For campus-based courses, this 10% discount was in addition to the 20% discount that Summer Session normally carries in comparison to Fall and Spring terms.


Originally, Winthrop projected a dramatic revenue loss for Summer 2020. However, as a result of this discount, and the exponential increase in online courses offered, enrollment and credit hour production increased significantly in Summer 2020.


The motion did not need a second as it was from the Committee on Finance. Chair McCall called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.


Report from the President


Dr. Hynd updated the Trustees on recent issues regarding COVID-19. The decision to require negative test evidence prior to admitting students into residence halls worked in January was successful as 118 COVID positive students were prevented from entering our residence halls. After the specified quarantine time, they were permitted to move into the halls.

In order to assist with masking requirements, six Campus Safety Ambassadors were hired to monitor students. Citations will be given to non-compliers with repeat offenders being reported to the Dean of Students. Overall, we have a relatively low rate on positive cases on campus and testing continues at the North Lot of the Coliseum.


Winthrop is coordinating with the City of Rock Hill on planning access to faculty and staff once we become eligible in phase 1b. Piedmont Medical Center provides the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine to the City of Rock Hill Vaccination Clinic located at the Galleria. Once eligible, employees will be able to get vaccinated wherever they choose, but we recently surveyed F/S and nearly 600 said they were interested in getting vaccinated at the Rock Hill clinic.


As the state is not requiring residents to be vaccinated, it is unlikely we would require vaccinations for employees or students. We are looking into what other schools are anticipating in this regard and exploring the legal parameters for requiring vaccines of students. At this point, unless CDC lists it as a required vaccination (like MMR series and tetanus), our Health Services will likely list it as strongly recommended but not required (like the Meningitis vaccine).Of course, this may change depending on what may happen with the virus and the variants of it in the coming months.


We will be collaborating with the USC School of Pharmacy to provide no-cost surveillance testing (saliva testing) every two weeks on campus. This will begin next Tuesday. The current plan is to offer this to all students, faculty and staff.


We are beginning discussions about fall expectations. COVID-19 safety precautions will continue, but it has not yet been determined whether students will have to provide a negative test to return in fall, as residents and students taking in-person classes had to do this spring.


In terms of enrollment, we are currently down about 2% in our overall spring enrollments compared to spring 2020. Undergraduate enrollment is down about 5% but graduate enrollment up 17%. Housing occupancy is around 1500, 58% occupancy. Applications are lagging from last year; students nation-wide submitting fewer applications.


Reporting on the budget, Dr. Hynd said we continue to carefully monitor our expenses and continue hiring freezes where possible. State appropriations will not be known until late spring. The university has received an additional $8.4M from the recent Federal Stimulus package: a minimum of $2.7M will need to go directly to the students with a restriction that the funds must be spent by August 2021. We have also received an additional $2.2M from SC CARES for reimbursements directly related to COVID-19 pandemic expenditures. We are working to determine how the stimulus money will impact our work to balance the budget this fiscal year and how it will impact our work to develop a three budget year plan that is linked to our strategic campus and academic plans. At this point in the fiscal year it looks like we will reach our budget targets through budget cuts, strategic hiring freeze, unspent resources, furlough and careful planning.

Master Plan and Campus Beautification Update


The Campus Master Plan will analyze student housing needs; academic and academic support space needs; athletic and recreational needs; landscape and site improvement plans addressing pedestrian and vehicular circulation, public transportation, parking, open space, signage, lighting, etc. During the planning process, the consultant team will be gathering information from a variety of participants including students, faculty and staff, alumni, administration, trustees, city of Rock Hill officials and community members, York County officials, and others. An invitation for Professional Services sent out mid-December with a response deadline of January 8, 2021. Seven consulting firms were interviewed. One architectural firm was selected to submit a full proposal. Final negotiations currently underway. Campus master plan scope can be extensive and could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. It is important to note that all firms interviewed cited the importance of the Winthrop Strategic Plan and Academic Master Plan in their approach to campus master planning at Winthrop.


Dean Jeff Bellantoni has agreed to lead the Campus Beautification Initiative. It is clear to everyone that we have an extraordinarily beautiful university campus, and its appearance reflects how we present Winthrop to our prospective and current students, alumni, employees, and community. The Campus Beautification Initiative will offer the opportunity to respect our institution’s history by contributing energy, vision and engagement to all of us on and off campus. Some projects will be addressed with Winthrop volunteer “sweat equity,” while more extensive, complex projects will be contracted out or completed by Facilities Management. Funding will come from the campus beautification fund, which is 100% donor supported.


Other efforts have already begun. Several recent projects fall under the goal we are advancing with this initiative: projects as the diversity and inclusion garden/sitting area at Rutledge created as an Eagle Scout project by Emily Pilarcyzk; the tree planting and other beautification efforts as part of our campus MLK, Jr. observance; and the campus clean-up initiated by Staff Conference before the holidays. These recent efforts and our future plans complement the excellent work that our Facilities Management team performs day in and day out with limited resources and staffing.


Conversations with the Deans


The academic deans were invited to share future visions for their colleges. Below is a summary of their remarks.


College of Arts and Sciences, Takita Sumter, Dean


The College offers dynamic programs to traditional high school recruits, transfers, and adult learners. We have added four new programs since 2018—two undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Professional Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Data Science; the online Master of Social Work and a certificate in Human Lactation. These programs have yielded 277 new
students. We are considering adding an online Master of Science in Human Nutrition and a combined MSW/MBA designed to appeals to mature students with supervisory experience. Additionally, we are evaluating offering at least one or two of our undergraduate programs online.


Moving forward, we plan to enhance our recruitment of high school students by increasing opportunities for dual enrollment. Notably, we are in the final stages of a partnership with the Rock Hill School District’s language immersion program that will significantly increase revenue. This is in addition to ongoing work to partner with five high schools including York Preparatory Academy and Odyssey Charter School of Greenville.


We offer a wide range of programs and have seen marked growth in the number of students completing degrees in the life and physical sciences in the past few years. This trend, we believe, is the result of our vibrant growth in NIH- and NSF-funded student research. In all, we have secured nearly $3M in funding for the sciences. The students have been remarkably successful with record numbers of them pursuing graduate study and most at the doctoral level.


Additionally, we have funding from the U.S. Dept of Justice and from the Department of Treasury to support work in the social sciences. These projects have resulted in a significant number of community partnerships. We also, as many of you know, are the home of the Winthrop Poll which, along with the West Forum, has led to some of the institution’s most noteworthy opportunities in political and civic engagement.


One goal that we look forward to pursuing is the establishment of a larger thematic student research initiative that will offer an interdisciplinary research experience for students in the humanities and social sciences.


Richard W. Riley College of Education, Jennie Rakestraw, Dean


The College has been recognized for our innovations, and our enrollments have been strong. While colleges of education across the country experienced steady declines in their enrollments, we seemed immune. However, now our enrollments are faltering and we are changing that trajectory in a number of ways. We have transformed our teacher education programs and now will create alternative pathways to teaching. With our current NetSERVE grant, we are developing Teacher Residencies built on an 18-month MAT program where students are paid $20,000 to serve alongside their mentor teachers in a year-long residency.


We recently received a Center of Excellence grant from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to develop a new undergraduate model that draws from the idea of teacher residencies. This will allow education majors to step into a classroom as a teacher during their last semester and be paid. Next in our plans, and probably the most challenging, is a post-baccalaureate, non-degree alternative pathway that is competency based.


We also need to think about new populations of students to recruit. We would like to increase the successful Call Me Mister program that recruits African-American males into the teaching profession, and we would like to expand it to the Latino population to reach Latino males.


To make best use of our resources, we need to connect not only programs in our college but pursue collaborative, interdisciplinary connections with programs and expertise across campus. Options are to consider a Master of Education in Higher Education Student Affairs and a Higher Education Administration track in our Ed.S. Ed Leadership program. We are already working to revive a graduate program—the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction as on online degree program. We need to consider stackable credentials at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This means offering sets of courses that lead to acquiring professional certifications and, in education, adding on State Department of Education endorsements.


As a reminder, half of COE’s undergraduate enrollments are with programs not related to K-12 education including Physical Education, Sport and Human Performance Department, Human Development and Family Services and our Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. Exercise Science is a vibrant program that has grown from 19 students in 2008 to around 250 students and there is still room to grow, especially with the new Lowenstein lab in Knowledge Park. This is a science-oriented program that leads into fitness careers—but it also serves as an ideal entry into health-professions programs, such as Physical Therapy. Athletic Training is a health care profession, providing primary and emergent care, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation in collaboration with a physician. We’re shifting that program to a novel 3+2 model with students graduating with a master’s degree. At the graduate level, we have the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program—a health-related field—and we run a community counseling clinic.


I believe we need to build on the strengths of our faculty and the success of these programs and venture into other health-related fields, such as an interdisciplinary bachelor’s in Public Health or Community Health. We also plan to expand into the area of eSports—a rapidly growing phenomena in the United States.


College of Business Administration, PN Saksena, Dean


The College is focused on offering degrees and credentials to meet market demand and generate additional revenue, while leveraging existing capacity. In just over three years, we have added a Bachelor of Science in Applied Software Development, in partnership with York Tech; added a Bachelor of Science in Data Science, in partnership with colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences; and are soon to add a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. Other new offerings are certificates in Business Analytics, Accounting Analytics, and Risk Assurance, and we have introduced a FinTech option through a Minor in Finance and created a track in Hotel and Hospitality Management, in preparation for the Panthers’ move to Rock Hill. Additionally, we are proceeding with a shorter, market demand-driven redesigned MBA and MBAA degree, with stackable micro-certificates and certificates.


Finally, we continue to work with York Tech on transfer pathways to increase enrollment in our Computer Science, Digital Information Design, Applied Software Development, and Cybersecurity degrees. York Tech has identified these degrees of interest, and they estimate that we may gain as many as 300 students by fall 2022.


The College has been successful in establishing partnerships resulting in high impact practice experiences, internship, and job opportunities for students; in increased contributions to the college; and they provide an opportunity for an additional source of revenue through offering non-credit education credentials. Examples of support include Kris Carroll’s pledge of $182,000 dollars through his portfolio management class where students also pass the SIE exam, TD Ameritrade’s $50,000 grant, BNA Advisors’ Scholars program at a support level of $10,000 per scholar, and Truist Bank’s support of $20,000 dollars, to name a few. Additionally, we are taking initial steps to establish a Center for Financial and Retirement Planning as well as an Economics Education and Development Center to increase interaction and impact.


From 2018 to 2021, our budget has decreased by approximately 11.5%, or about $930,000. We have achieved these significant savings by reducing faculty lines, reducing staff lines, streamlining our administrative structure, combining leadership roles, and by significantly reducing operating expenses. At the same time, our overall enrollment has stayed flat, between fall 2017 and fall 2020 (despite COVID and lack of marketing), with two bright spots – a 26% increase in computer science and a 19% increase in our MBA program.


We are actively evaluating our programs through the Academic Master Planning exercise, and I have established a Greater Efficiency Taskforce (GET) that will study how we can build efficiency into our systems and processes.


In the near term, we need resources as we work on re-visioning our computing infrastructure and consider ways to make it sustainable, to help market our programs, and to upgrade Whitton Auditorium and our Trading Lab so they can be used for revenue generation. In the medium term, our facilities need to be updated since colleges of business are typically housed in state-of-the-art buildings that are used for student recruitment and retention. Finally, I would like to lead the CBA as a business unit with dedicated professionals for marketing and recruitment, non-credit education, advancement, and career services.


College of Visual and Performing Arts, Jeff Bellantoni, Dean


We believe students enroll in arts programs because of faculty excellence, program offerings, the facilities (the arts are facilities dependent), and the reputation of the university. All three of these are critical and connected, weakness in one makes success in the others more difficult.

The vision is for CVPA to grow from a regional to nationally recognized leader in arts education. We want to “move the needle” by introducing new paradigms in the ARTS. This can happen by recruiting a diverse, qualified and highly productive faculty, identifying needs, and propose and develop new and upgraded facilities, having innovative academic programs, ensuring the college is operating as efficiently as possible, knowing that the cost per student is higher in the arts, and establishing a culture of fundraising.


To date we have hired a dedicated arts recruiter in admissions, sub-branded our college with #ARTSwinthrop and created a robust social media presence. This has resulted in an increase of 100 students, up 16% since 2017, exceeded 700 students last fall for first time since 2013, and increase of 3% from Fall ‘19 to Fall ’20, and enrollment this spring semester is the same as last year at this time. We have received three major gifts including a six figure estate gift, and a $1M arts endowment.


We have increased BIPOC representation in the staff from 0-25%; and faculty from 6-17%, established a Diversity, Equity and Social Justice Council, have had 18 new hires since 2017; 17 retirements/4 resignations with six currently vacant faculty lines.


Curriculum changes include conversion of two design degrees from Bachelor of Fine Arts to Bachelor of Design that reduced instructional cost by sharing classes for the first two years for all students in design programs. We merged three music graduate degrees with low enrollments into one degree with concentrations, developed the online Master of Arts Administration degree, launched in partnership with Wiley, which exceeded projections at 36 students. We’re developing new innovative areas of study, minors, and courses, such as aerial dance, video, creative coding, augmented and virtual reality, and music technology. We are considering an undergraduate program in Integrated Arts—BA designed for two years to accommodate transfers/articulations more easily, Business and Music Industry programs, Acting and Directing for the screen, as well as Apparel and Product Design.


The condition of our facilities continues to affect recruitment of new students and faculty. We must consider health, safety, and accreditation issues for Art, Design, and Music. Many prospective students have better quality facilities in high school.


Graduate School, Jack DeRochi, Dean


We want to be, and are on our way to becoming, the first-thought for graduate and adult professional education in our community and region. Our current enrollment is slightly over 1,000 graduate degree-seeking students. The launch of 100% online graduate programs are a major part, but not the only part. Our campus-based programs are rebounding. The percentages of our growth outpaces many of our peers.


Regarding our 100% online graduate programs, there will now be a slight dip in this enrollment as the programs hit maturity and many online students begin graduating. It is important to note here that our retention rate in our 100% online graduate programs is over 92%---these students see the quality of the education and support they’re receiving and are determined to complete.


The Bachelor of Professional Studies enrollment is now over 30, which is an impressive number as this program launched in the middle of COVID and the student population is the most vulnerable to this pandemic and the economy. As a frame of reference, 30 students enrolled in this program (60 hours) is the equivalent of 60 students enrolled in a 30 hour program. Moreover, only 5 courses in the BPS are new; therefore, over 45 hours of the BPS program are courses already being scheduled across the university.


As anticipated, our summer enrollment in 2020 was an important increase. Our students were away from campus (as always) but definitely want to continue their programs of study. Offering so many courses online allowed them to do so. While the revenue was flat, we should recognize that flat revenue was in spite of a lowered price point and a smaller pool of students.. As undergraduate enrollment declines, the overall pool of students who might take summer courses also declines.


Looking forward, we plan to expand offerings that deliver professional and conspicuous return on investment (ROI) and level-up our portfolio by offering professional doctorates like occupational therapy and physical therapy. These programs are seen as “blue chip” programs for a comprehensive university. They are expensive but provide guaranteed dividends to the university and community. We would also like to expand our capacity to deliver alternative credentials like certificates, microcertificates, degree-completion programs, non-credit continuing education, and badges.


In order to do so, we will need to make investments in new program markets and use multiple modalities such as online and non-residential. We should develop a five year plan to scale up our online capacities to require fewer services from Wiley and Sons Educational Services.


Recess


Chair McCall recessed the meeting with plans to reconvene at 9:00 am on Saturday, February 20, 2021.


Return to Meeting


Chair McCall reconvened the meeting at 9:00 am.


Executive Session


Kathy Bigham moved with a second from Sandra Stroman to move into executive session pursuant to South Carolina Ann. §30-4-70(a)(1) and (2) for the purpose of discussions of personnel issues and legal matters. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

Kimberly Faust was invited to remain for portions of the executive session.


Gary Williams moved to end executive session. Janet Smalley seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session.


Adjournment


Hearing no objections, Chair McCall adjourned the meeting at 3:05 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Kimberly A. Faust, Secretary to the Board

Last Updated: 10/4/21