Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Friday, November 6, 2020 | 9:00 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 (via teleconference), Julie Fowler, Tim Sease, Sandra Stroman, John Brazell, President George W. Hynd (ex-officio)

Members absent: None

Representative present: Adolphus Belk, Jr. via teleconference, Brandon Jackson

Others present: Media representatives included Alex Zietlow and Caitlyn Derickson from the Herald, Olivia Esselman and Bryan Smith from the Johnsonian.


The Board of Trustees met on Friday, November 6, 2020 on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.


Call to Order

Chair McCall called the meeting to order at 9:36 a.m. He welcomed all present and delivered an invocation. Chair McCall urged all Trustees to read supporting materials ahead of the meetings and stated that those materials are needed two weeks prior to the meeting. Mr. McCall also thanked the faculty and staff who have continued to report to the campus each day since March 2020.


Executive Session

Ashlye Wilkerson moved with a second from Gary Williams to move into executive session pursuant to South Carolina Ann. §30-4-70(a)(1) and (2) for the purpose of discussions of proposed contractual arrangements and personnel issues. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

Kimberly Faust, Justin Oates, Caroline Overcash, Adrienne McCormick, Lisa Cowart, Amanda Maghsoud, and Hank Harrawood were invited to remain for portions of the executive session.

Tim Sease moved to end executive session with no report. Jane LaRoche seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session.


Approval of Minutes September 25, 2020

Robby Sisco moved to accept the minutes as written. Sandra Stroman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous in favor of the minutes as written.


Report of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Board

Chair McCall brought forth two resolutions recommended by the Executive Committee. The first was to honor Donna Glenn Tinsley Holley for her meritorious service to the Board as a Trustee representing Congressional District 2, from 2004 through 2020. The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.

The second resolution was to honor Dot Barber for her long service to Winthrop University. While Ms. Barber officially retired from Winthrop a number of years ago, she continued her work, post-retirement, for a total of 50 years. Because of her retirement date, she was not eligible for a certificate of service from South Carolina. The Board’s resolution was a way of acknowledging her 50 total years of service to our university.


Report from the President

Dr. Hynd reported on the spring semester plans for pre-entry COVID-19 testing for students who will be taking in-person classes and/or living in the residence halls. Students will be required to present a negative test result for a test taken 72 hours in advance of their return date/first in-person class. (Online-only students will not be required to submit test results.) Students will need to quarantine two days prior to their test and continue to quarantine until their scheduled return to campus date. The benefit of return testing is prevention of positive students from returning to campus and exposing others to the virus. Residence Life and Health Services will lead the coordination of the testing results management as well as the necessary move-in health screenings in January like those we required in the fall prior to move-in. We also are considering surveillance testing (random sampling of the campus community) in the spring and exploring the details of how that might work.

General updates shared by the president included: applications for fall 2021 are down as compared to last year at this time, 300 faculty have taken a course on how to teach online, and currently we have 65 vacant staff position and 35 vacant faculty positions.

Looking forward, the president commented on upcoming plans to engage consultants for a campus master planning process. This effort will be a comprehensive planning process will examine the needs and growth of the university, including analysis of academic and academic support needs, student housing, athletic and recreational needs, landscape and site improvement plans addressing pedestrian and vehicular circulation, parking, gathering places, way-finding signage, and lighting. Master planning is a collaborative process that requires input from university leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni, neighbors, and city leaders.

A revisiting of the Strategic Plan is also on track for work in the spring semester. A fresh look at the Plan is needed to ascertain what is working, what may need to be reimagined, and what is next.

Conversations about the budget continue. Our efforts with furloughs and reduced operational spending is working. We’re not anticipating furloughs for next year but cannot rule out that possibility at this time.

In closing, the final in-person classes of the fall semester will be held on Friday, Nov. 20. Monday, Nov. 23, will serve as a remote learning day for all in-person and hybrid students. Following the Thanksgiving break, all classes will resume remotely on Monday, Nov. 30, to finish the fall semester. Residence halls will close for the fall semester on Tuesday, Nov. 24.


Committee Reports

Academic Quality

Ms. Janet Smalley reported on actions from the Committee on Academic Quality. The Committee reviewed three resolutions and brought those forward for a Board vote.


Resolution to Establish a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity: The BS in Cybersecurity builds on our existing course offerings in Computer Science. The program will require 68-69 hours in the major, of which 18 hours are new cybersecurity courses. The other hours in the major are existing courses in Computer Science, Accounting, Mathematics and Quantitative Methods (Statistics). The new courses cover topics in the foundations and principles of cybersecurity, system administration and security, cyber forensics, ethical hacking, and cloud computing. The full degree program (including the general education requirements and electives is listed at the end of this document.

Needing no second, Chair McCall called for a vote on the resolution. It passed unanimously.


Resolution to Establish Master of Science in Athletic Training: The MSAT will provide a “3+2” option for students who complete required prerequisite coursework as part of Winthrop University’s Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science / Athletic Training Concentration (BSES/AT). Those students will be able to complete the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and the MSAT in five years. The MSAT will also provide a traditional degree option for students who complete required prerequisite coursework and have completed a baccalaureate degree with the appropriate prerequisite courses either at Winthrop or at another institution of higher education.

Needing no second, Chair McCall called for a vote on the resolution. It passed unanimously.


Resolution to Establish a Bachelor of Design in with Concentration in Experience Design, Graphic Design, Illustration and Interior Design: Winthrop currently offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in Interior Design and Visual Communication Design (concentrations in Graphic Design or Illustration). We are proposing eliminating the BFA and adding a new Bachelor of Design (BDes) degree, collapsing the degrees of Interior Design and Visual Communication Design into one degree with four concentration options: Graphic Design, Experience Design (new), Illustration, or Interior Design. The degree structure and content that currently exists within the BFA degrees will remain unchanged. Experience Design is a new concentration. Experience Design uses communicative, emotional, and behavioral research methods connecting products, services, environments, and systems to solve complex problems for positive outcomes.

Needing no second, Chair McCall called for a vote on the resolution. It passed unanimously.


Committee on Compensation

Chair Bigham shared highlights of the Committee meeting that began with a review of the furlough program. Approximately 100 employees chose the lump sum option to take all of their furlough at once to increase their likelihood of receiving unemployment benefits. The remaining employees will have their payroll deductions spread over the remaining months of the fiscal year.

The Committee reviewed some of the HR-related metrics submitted to the committee. Points noted were that we currently have 32 less employees than this time last year, which is likely due to the current hiring freeze. Additionally, at this time last year, Human Resources processed between 20-25 unemployment claims. The department has processed approximately 250 claims this year as a result of the campus closure in March and furloughs.


Committee on Enrollment and Retention

Chair Fowler began her report with an update on graduate school enrollment for Fall 2020. Retention rates for graduate programs overall is 91%; retention rate in online programs is 95%. The update on undergraduate enrollments focused on addressed Covid-related recruitment changes, final enrollment numbers for Fall 2020, and a discussion of recruitment plans for Fall 2021 for freshmen and transfer students. As of April 2020, the Office of Admissions was on target to exceed the enrollment goals for Fall 2020.

Freshmen and transfer applications are down at this time. Communication and outreach to prospective students have been developed and updated to include experiences that current Winthrop students are having. To increase the interest from Transfer Students, a partnership was established with EAB to develop a transfer credit evaluation platform online for students to get the number of transferrable courses within minutes. The prospective student search process – traditionally conducted with the assistance of a third-party vendor - has been conducted in-house since February 2019.

Eduardo Prieto, Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management, shared the difference in applicants from Fall 2020 and Fall 2021, who applied test optional. The Fall 2021 applicants have higher GPAs and are ranked higher, on average when compared to the Fall 2020 cohort of test optional enrolled students.


Committee on Finance

Chair Imler discussed the review of our external audit. Mr. Ben Kochenower stated that based on his firm’s audit of the FY2019-20 statements, Winthrop was issued an unmodified (“clean”) opinion.

Mr. Kochenower noted there were no disagreements with management during the audit. He discussed that the Federal single audit report was not included with the financial statements audit report as in most years because the federal government had not yet issued audit guidance for the Federal CARES Act funding provided to institutions of higher education for COVID-19 pandemic relief.

The Committee also reviewed total Fall 2020 degree seeking enrollment and learned it declined by 1.3%, or 68 students, with undergraduate student population down by 5.0%, or 222 students, and graduate up by 18.5%, or 154 students. Fall 2020 housing occupancy was at 63%, down from 91% in Fall 2019. This was caused by 600+ room assignment waivers granted to students. The FY21 forecast presented was based on assumptions including a normal Spring semester schedule and flat housing occupancy from Fall to Spring.

The Committee learned that FY2021 total operating revenues are projected to be $112M (down from the original $123M estimate) with total operating expenses projected to be balanced to revenues with faculty and staff vacant position savings and operating expense budget reductions of $3.8M, Board approved furloughs of $3M, CARES Institutional Share Funding of $2.7M, SC Cares reimbursements of $644K (for COVID related expenses), and up to a $1.9M draw on existing unrestricted net position.


Committee on Institutional Advancement and Development

Chair Sease conveyed information the Committee learned at their meeting. The 2020 Winthrop Fund goal is $375, 000. At this point, we are expecting cash receipts to surpass $400,000 by the end of the calendar year. The Committee also heard about Campaign Readiness which is targeted for Fall 2022/Spring 2023 with two principal objectives. One being reinforcing progress and productivity gains in key fund raising programs and the second, continuing to implement necessary programs to further enhance fund raising productivity. The priorities and initiatives include Annual Giving, Development/Major Giving and Planned Giving.

The Committee then heard about the six objectives in University Communications and Marketing division’s FY20 Work Plan for Continuous Improvement including: Building the brand by promoting and expanding awareness of the Winthrop brand to diverse stakeholders by brand loyalty expansion, awareness, associations and perceived quality, Increasing admission inquiry pool by engaging prospective students in a virtual campus visit experience that generates admissions leads, Increasing engagement across social media by approaching social media content production strategically and in a timely manner to increase stakeholder engagement in key demographics, Supporting the university’s revenue stream by continuing to work on increasing external sales in Printing Services, Enhancing the Winthrop website by developing an appealing website featuring the Winthrop brand that is responsive to prospective students’ user-behavior and devices, and Supporting the needs of the university by providing the support structure necessary to prioritize enrollment, fundraising and reputation/visibility initiatives.


Committee on Student Life and Athletics

Chair Hopkins’ report on his Committee’s meeting included an update from VP Burkhalter on the status of COVID-19 related items. Winthrop is partnering with DHEC to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Coliseum. This free community COVID-19 testing is being offered five days per week. Winthrop faculty, staff, and students are also able to take advantage of this resource. Additionally, we instituted strict COVID-19 guidelines for the campus. There have been 103 COVID-19 guideline violations infractions by students as of September 30, 2020. Most of the violations are face coverings and guest/visitation policy violations. Overall, students have been doing very well with COVID-19 guidelines compared to other institutions across the nation. The Council of Student Leaders has been an integral partner in reinforcing the COVID-19 guidelines to the students.

The university is looking into ways to accomplish student surveillance testing. Surveillance testing could include weekly randomized testing of students attending in-person classes and/or living on campus. Student Affairs will collaborate with the Office of Registration and Records to develop the list of students for randomized testing. There will be no charge to students who are selected to test.

The Committee also learned of new Title IX regulations that took effect on August 14. The new definition states that to call a situation sexual harassment, it must have occurred in an “education program or activity” and “in the United States”. The results of the new guidance has changed the way the University manages Title IX. Formal complaints must have a live hearing, and witnesses must be present. The advisors will also have the option to perform cross-examination. Questions must be relevant as determined by Decision Maker(s). VP Burkhalter stated that all hearings must be recorded.

The Committee heard a report from VP Ken Halpin regarding athletics. All Fall sports will be played in the Spring semester due to COVID-19. Per NCAA rules, all sports with the exception of basketball will begin at the start of the Spring semester. The following are the start dates for the upcoming sports: MBB/WBB on November 25, cross country on January 23, men/women’s soccer on February 3, and volleyball on January 22. The Committee was also reminded that 86 institutions have eliminated more than 350 college sports inclusive of both men’s and women’s teams.

VP Halpin shared updates on NCAA legislation. The NCAA Division I Council is voting on a one-time exception for all transferring student-athletes to compete immediately. The Council introduced the proposal, recommended by the Working Group on Transfers, into the 2020-21 legislative cycle. The proposal would expand the current one-time transfer exception to all sports. Currently, student-athletes who participate in baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey are not eligible to transfer and compete immediately without a waiver.


Report from the Representatives to the Board

Faculty Representative to the Board

In his report to the Board, Dr. Belk, Jr. listed a number of recently deceased Winthrop employees as well as the names of the faculty awarded tenure and promotion at the June 2020 Board meeting.

He also mentioned a new Visual Communication and Interior Design Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with four concentrations: Experience Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Interior Design, and seven first-time course certifications were completed as well as the faculty’s decision to use a modified grading system similar to the one implemented in Spring 2020 semester.

Dr. Belk, Jr. reported on faculty concerns including efforts to keep Winthop’s campus safe during COVID-19 outbreaks, plans for Spring Break, and the desire for faculty to attend Board meetings remotely instead of having to travel to campus to participate.

Dr. Belk, Jr. concluded his report with by expressing his opinion on the idea proposed by some “that Winthrop, like other institutions across the nation, is liberally adrift, maybe even hopelessly so.”


Student Representative to the Board

Council of Student Leaders Chair, Brandon Jackson, said that safety on and around the college campus is a key concern and priority for everyone during this pandemic. The Council of Student Leaders has reiterated to the student population how critical it is for them to wear masks and social distance themselves from one another.

Mr. Jackson shared information about the new initiative that CSL developed. To help students adjust to their 2020 college experience, Winthrop’s student council created a monthly event called Garnet Table Talk, where students are able to voice their concerns about their Winthrop experience amidst COVID-19. Each month's topic will vary from residential life to class instruction, depending on what is relevant at the given time. Mr. Jackson said that the Garnet Table Talk gives students a space to talk about various topics they have concerns about and how to navigate through them. Garnet Table Talk will allow students to meet monthly via Zoom. Concerns are recorded, documented, and communicated with appropriate personnel on campus.

When asked about student morale, Mr. Jackson said there are two distinct groups, the upper classmen who are making the best of a bad situation and the freshmen and sophomores who feel isolated and are having restricted experiences.



Hearing no objections, Chair McCall adjourned the meeting at 3:28 p.m.

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