Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Friday, December 13, 2013
Gold Room, DiGiorgio Campus Center
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC


Members present: Kathy Bigham, James Williamson,Jane LaRoche, Susan Smith-Rex, Bob Thompson, Donna  GlennHolley, Janet Smalley,Ashlye Wilkerson , Glenn McCall, Tim Hopkins, Don Long,  Mitchell Zais, Tim Sease, Scott Talley, Jayne Marie Comstock (ex officio).

Members absent: Karl Folkens

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

Representatives absent: None.

Others present: Faculty and staff of Winthrop University, Anna Douglas of The Herald.  David Thackham, The Johnsonian, Ian Deas, vice president, Council of Student Leaders

The Board of Trustees met on Friday, December 13, 2013 on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.


Call to Order

Chair Kathy Bigham called the meeting to order at 11:05 a.m.  Bob Thompson moved the Board meet in executive session for the discussion of personnel  and contractual matters.  Jane LaRoche seconded the motion.  As the vote was unanimous, the Board moved into executive session.  Scott Talley moved the Board return to public session with no actions taken. The motion was seconded by Donna Glenn Holley. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote. At that time, the meeting was recessed with plans to resume at 1:00 p.m.

As Chair Kathy Bigham was not able to attend the afternoon portion of the meeting and Vice Chair Karl Folkens was not in attendance, Janet Smalley called the meeting to order at 1:06 p.m. There was no request for public comment.

In honor of the recent passing of former Trustee and Winthrop alumna, Dr. Mary Jean Ligon Martin, the Board observed a moment of silence. 


Approval of Board Minutes of October 10-11, 2013

Glenn McCall moved, seconded by Don Long to approve the minutes of October 10-11, 2013. The minutes were approved unanimously by voice vote.


Report of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Board

Ms. Smalley reported that the Executive Committee had met on campus on December 4, 2013.At the meeting President Comstock previewed a new format planned for the President's Report.  Each university division will have its own section that will begin with an overview of the division, an update of any personnel changes, followed by a high-level overview of divisional activities during the fall semester.  The report has been included in the materials mailed to the Trustees in advance of today's meeting.  It was created so that Trustees can read the report ahead of time thereby permitting more time for discussion during the meetings.

President Comstock also  provided an update of  the two personnel searches; Assistant to the President for Public Affairs (APPA) and VP of Access and Enrollment.  The APPA position netted 80 applications with a wide variety of experience levels.  Three candidates have been identified and have been invited to campus.  All three candidates have experience in staffing a president, government relations, and media relations.  The VP for Access and Enrollment search has resulted in four candidates being invited to campus. Each of those candidates is a sitting Vice President and will bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to our Admissions and Enrollment operation.

The Future Focus initiative continues to move forward.  Three Town Halls with faculty and staff and one Town Hall with the Council of Student Leaders were held.  About 500 people attended the Town Halls.  As a follow up, three separate focus group meetings with nearly 200 faculty and staff were held to review the objectives in greater detail.  Notes and comments from these meetings are being compiled and will be used to shape the new strategic plan being developed.

Additionally reported at the Executive Committee meeting, Associate VP of Human Resources, Lisa Cowart, organized and led two Town Hall meetings of the staff.  Presented at those meetings were options for the development of a Staff Assembly.  An online survey is now underway to determine the type of organizational structure desired.  Results are expected in early January.  The idea is so popular with the staff they have already created a Facebook page.


Report of the Committee on Academic Affairs

As Chair Smalley  is leading the Board meeting, Dr. Sue Smith Rex reported on the Academic Affairs Committee meeting.  The focus on today's meeting was the achievements of the graduating students. 

Dacus Library and Pettus Archives: Alison Boulton (History, 2011), a current master's degree in history candidate.  Ms. Boulton's exhibit, "A Stitch in Time," features her hand-sewn examples of Winthrop student uniforms from 1895 to 1910. 

Arts and Sciences: Arthur Takahashi (Mass Communication, 2010) works for the CBS affiliate television station in Augusta, Georgia.  His wife, Tiffany Barkley Takahashi (Mass Communication, 2011), works for the FOX affiliate television station in Augusta.  Alexandra "Allie" Briggs (Political Science, 2013) is now the Operations Manager for the Social and Behavioral Research Laboratory (SBRL) at Winthrop University.  Ms. Kelly (Salyer) Medley (English, 2011) and a current master's degree in English candidate did her internship at Fort Mill High School, which led to her employment there starting in 2012. Kelly has been named "Teacher of the Month" twice in her two years at Fort Mill High.

University College: Kambrell Garvin (Political Science, 2013) is currently with Teach for America and was recently accepted into the Master of Education online program at Johns Hopkins University.  Matt Horn (Biology, 2013) is now pursuing his medical degree at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Visual and Performing Arts: Deanna Gibson (Theatre Performance, 2002)now a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild and is currently appearing in Collected Stories at Florida Repertory Theatre.  Bob Crawford (Music, 2002) is best known as a member of the popular band the Avett Brothers since his graduation. During his tenure with the Avett Brothers, the band signed with Columbia Records and performs internationally to an ever-growing fan base.  Matthew Cordell (Design, 1997) just sold the rights to his book WISH to Hyperion Publishing.   The book is slated for February 2015 publication.

Education: Greg Adamson (Physical Education Fitness Wellness, 2008) is now serving at the University of Tennessee as Assistant Strength Coach with the football team and as Head Strength Coach for women's soccer.  Dr. Tammy Graham (M.Ed. Educational Leadership, 2006) was selected as the 2012 Assistant Principal of the Year for the State of South Carolina.  Darleen Sutton (M.Ed. Elementary Education, 1990) is a first-grade teacher at Pickens Elementary School and was honored last May by being selected as the 2014 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Business Administration: Patrick Dukes (Math and Computer Science, 2010) is currently working on his Ph.D. in computer science at Clemson.  Earlier this year he won $4,000 and a trip to Australia for his combination computer game / physical therapy project as part of Microsoft's Imagine Cup Challenge.  David Arraya, (International Business, 2008) is Hotel Manager at a Swire Hotel in Hong Kong. Swire is a small chain of luxury hotels catering to savvy business executives.  Cal Queener (Computer Science, 2007) is a Captain and Cyberspace Operations Officer in the US Air Force.

Graduate School: Susan Huntington (Master of Business Administration, 20030 Director of Product Management overseeing American City's Business Journals' digital products.  Sandra Singletary (Master of Fine Arts, 2011) was employed by Lander University as an Assistant Professor of Art in August 2011. 

Provost Debra Boyd reported that work has begun on establishing a policy for awarding honorary degrees as per the Board's request.  The working committee will have campus-wide representation and will be tasked with establishing a policy that reflects Winthrop's values and has a clear process for vetting potential awardees.  We look forward to a draft of this policy at the Board's next regular meeting.


Report of the Committee on Finance

Chair Glenn McCall reported the Committee discussed President Comstock's update to the Faculty Conference regarding the university budget.  A copy of the blank new budget template was shared with the faculty  and a general overview of dollar amounts was also discussed.  The new template was well received by the faculty. 

Chair McCall updated the Board on the report of Mr. Ben Kochenower, our external auditor.  Winthrop has received an unmodified opinion based on financial statements for fiscal year 2013.  He stated that their report included the management discussion analysis, the financial statements, a new three-page report, and the note of disclosures. 

Chair McCall concluded his report by thanking VP of Finance JP McKee and Associate VP for Finance Amanda Maghsoud for their good work leading to yet another unmodified opinion from the external auditor.


Report of the Committee on Student Life

Chair Talley reported the Committee held their meeting in the Coco Cola Academic Center of the Winthrop Coliseum.  They had a tour of the academic facilities and a review of Athletics organizational structure and staffing with Tom Hickman, Athletic Director.  Following the discussion of Athletics, VP of Student Life Dr. Frank Ardaiolo, briefed the Committee on Student Life's organizational  structure and staffing. 

Chair Talley stated it was the most fun meeting the Committee has had and he thanked Mr. Hickman and Dr. Ardaiolo for their good work in planning an informative, enjoyable, and lively meeting.


Report from the Committee on Institutional Advancement and Development

Chair Bob Thompson reported on information regarding recruitment and admissions activities shared by Provost Debra Boyd.  Spring 2014 new enrollment has increased 3% for undergraduate applications and6% increase in undergraduate admissions.  It is still too early to be definitive about fall 2014 enrollment but it does look promising with application and admission numbers trending upward with a 9% increase in applications and a 22% increase in admissions.

The Committee also heard about the new out-of-state recruitment initiative, the Global Ambassador Scholarship. This program restricted to out-of-state students, will award up to 50 new freshmen a scholarship valued at one-half of tuition and will provide $1,000 toward the cost of a study-abroad experience.

Executive Director of the Winthrop Foundation Kim Keel briefed the Committee on the progress made on the revised Memorandum of Understanding that will be shared with the Trustees at the retreat in February.  She reported on Foundation's 2014 budget as well as its total investment portfolio, which includes the total endowment balance, has increased from $37,477,827 in the third quarter of 2012 to $40,866,062 (increase of 9.0%) at the end of the third quarter of 2013.

Chair Thompson noted Dr. Danny Nicholson, VP for Advancement, has only been on the job for five weeks but has already transformed his division.  Everyone is now involved in developing a new model of philanthropy for our campus.


Report of the Chair of Faculty Conference and Faculty Representative to the Board

Dr. John Bird reported on the most recent actions of the Faculty Conference.  The faculty have passed a resolution to amend Article II, Section 3 of their bylaws to permit, by a two-thirds vote of a quorum, an appeal to the Board of Trustees of the President's disapproval of a recommendation.  Dr. Bird said in his twenty years on the faculty at Winthrop there has only been once instance of such an appeal. In 2009 the ability to appeal had been stricken from the Board of Trustees' bylaws.  Dr. Bird urged the Board to reinstate the ability to appeal in their upcoming bylaw review.

Other work by the faculty includes the re-examination of the general education requirements.  The idea is not to redo the general education but rather to make adjustments as needed to provide more options for transfer students and those students who wish to switch majors. 

In summary, Dr. Bird thanked President Comstock for her willingness to share the budgeting process with the faculty conference.  He referenced "the Comstock era" as one of transparency and openness.  Dr. Bird concluded his report by issuing a standing invitation to the Trustees to attend any of the upcoming meetings of the Faculty Conference with the next one scheduled for March 7 at 2:00 p.m.


Report from the President of Council of Student Leaders (CSL) and Student Representative to the Board

Mr. Christopher Aubrie reported on the fall semester activities of the Council of Student Leaders.  To date, $21,000 of their $38,000 student allocations budget has been distributed.  The Garnet and Gold Gala will be held on February 15 and the LIFT (Leadership Institute for First Timers) will be held on February 22.  This conference is co-sponsored by the Council of Student Leaders and the Office of Student Engagement & Diversity. It is an opportunity for Winthrop students to gain leadership skills and connect with other students in leadership positions.

Additionally, the CSL is working on a survey to gauge student interest in a nonsmoking campus.  Currently we have a number of restricted smoking areas but anecdotally there seems to be support for a completely tobacco free campus.  The survey will be designed to ascertain if the support is widespread or only sporadic. 

Upcoming activities include the annual winter retreat and the annual member elections in the spring semester.


Report from the President
President Comstock began with an overview of the President's report that was created by input from each division of the University.  Taking the place of the former quarterly reports, the new President's report is wider in scope yet focused on critical data points needed to track Winthrop's progress.  Each member of the President's Advisory Council was involved in gathering data with Ellen Wilder-Byrd, Associate VP of University Relations taking the lead on editing the document.  

The President updated the Board on the progress to date of the campus visioning process.  In November, three focus groups were held based on input from the Town Halls. The three overarching themes were (a) strategies that will help us grow our enrollment, improve retention rates, while maintaining quality; (b) strategies to better accommodate the needs of all students by considering methods of course delivery, class scheduling, and academic calendar; (c) strategies to strengthen student life, study abroad, and community engagement.  While this strategic planning work is unfolding, the annual work plan that was created last spring under President DiGiorgio is continuing.

President Comstock then briefed the Trustees on legislative matters by first reviewing the weekly update as provided by our legislative liaison, Mr. Bob Coble of the Nexon Pruitt law firm.  Items of interest to Winthrop include the accountability based funding bills, the bill to permit Boards to add an additional trustee, and a bill that would permit concealed weapons on campus.  We will continue to monitor these bills and keep the Board informed.  Additionally, Winthrop has responded to Senator Brad Hutto's FOIA request regarding a Memorandum of Understanding linking the University's Center for Social Welfare Research & Assessment and the S.C. Department of Social Services (DSS).

President Comstock invited the Trustees to join her as she testifies before the House Ways and Means subcommittee regarding our request for recurring allocations.  The date of that testimony is January 28.

President Comstock reviewed the status of the Knowledge Park initiative with the Trustees.  She reminded them of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Rock Hill, the Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation, and the Knowledge Park Leadership Group to engage the services of a master developerSora-Phelps, LLC.  In signing the MOU, Winthrop has agreed to discuss and share information regarding real estate, capital improvement plans, and institutional goals.  Three preliminary planning discussions with Sora-Phelps, LLC have resulted in a list of potential projects and programs that include student housing, academic facilities, collaborative partnerships, adult and post-traditional programming, and an active adult community, as well as the possibility of including Winthrop football as part of the Knowledge Park/Sports Tourism initiatives.   A preliminary design proposal from the Sora-Phelps, LLC, is expected to be ready in February 2014.


Old Business


New Business



Hearing no objections, Ms. Smalley adjourned the meeting at 3:36p.m.

Minutes submitted by Kimberly Faust, Secretary to the Board