Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 1:00 p.m.
Vera Gruber Batten Dining Room | McBryde Hall
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

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

Members absent: Representative present: Adolphus Belk, Jr. via Zoom / Brandon Jackson

Others present: Tim Drueke, Lars Larsen, Adrienne McCormick, Kimberly Faust, Caroline Overcash, Eduardo Prieto, Tammie Phillips, Jamie Cooper, Jack DeRochi, Patrice Bruneau, Lars Larsen, Leigh Crain, Judy Longshaw, Ellen Wilder-Byrd and others from the Winthrop faculty and staff. Media representatives included Caitlyn Derikson and Alex Zietlow from the Herald and Rachel Richardson from CN2.


The Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.


Call to Order

Chair McCall called the meeting to order at1:43 p.m. He welcomed all present. Mr. McCall delivered an invocation.


Motion to Amend Agenda to Include an Executive Session

Gary Williams moved to amend the agenda to include an executive session pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §30-4-70(a)(1) and (2) for the purposes of discussion of employment matters involving certain present university employees and contractual items related to Winthrop University. Tim Sease seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.


Approval of Minutes June 19, 2020 and August 14, 2020

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


Consideration of Resolution to Affirm Winthrop’s Commitment to Freedom of Speech

Tim Hopkins moved to accept the resolution as written. Gary Williams seconded the resolution.

President Hynd spoke in favor of the resolution by commenting on the unusual and challenging past few months. In addition to dealing with the countless and increasingly pressing details related to mitigating the health risk to our staff and faculty as we consider how best to bring our students back to campus, we have been beset by a number of issues related to free speech. It was not the president’s intent to review, highlight or comment on the specific occasions that have led us to today’s conversation regarding freedom of speech - on or off campus. Suffice it to say that there are lessons to be learned, or perhaps relearned. First and foremost, in today’s world of instant digital access, anything that is shared in any media, social platform or otherwise has the potential to be misinterpreted misrepresented or co-opted by others in ways that were never intended by the author. Second, it should be a fundamental understanding in the academy that when personal opinions are expressed, as opposed to in refereed, peer reviewed scholarship, it is important to identify it as personal opinion and not reflective of the institution in which one is employed. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we are reminded that freedom of expression is a fundamental right. At Winthrop, we as an institution have long held the belief that a university should be a marketplace of ideas; an environment where opposing views can and should be respectfully and thoughtfully examined.

It is in that spirit that the president quoted from the University of Chicago’s Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression in the university community.

…the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community. I should note that the University of Chicago’s statement has been adopted by over 75 universities across the country, including I might add the Citadel and informs the resolution before you today.

Finally, he noted that for the past 80 years Winthrop University has been committed to the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom from the AAUP which states that, “Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and are not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.”

The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.


Consideration of Resolution to Implement FY20-21 Furlough Plan

Kathy Bigham moved to accept the resolution as written. Robby Sisco seconded the resolution.

Winthrop University is facing several new challenges during the current COVID-19 pandemic including a reduction in key revenue sources and an expected decrease in future student enrollment for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year. For the fall 2020 semester, housing and dining revenues alone have been reduced by 35% as a result of the two-week delay in bringing students to campus at the beginning of the semester, and the decision to ask students not to return to campus after the Thanksgiving break. The University has already implemented a number of cost savings measures to address the shortfall, including campus-wide reductions in operating budget expenses, a freeze on hiring (to the extent possible), and allowing only essential travel. Because of the immediate need in FY2021, it is necessary for the University to establish and implement a mandatory furlough plan due to the COVID-19 related revenue funding reductions. The savings realized by the implementation of the mandatory furlough plan will provide additional revenue recovery to the already mentioned measures taken.

This plan will cover all faculty and staff with only a few exceptions such as adjunct faculty, sworn police officers, boiler operators, those holding H-1B visas, and nurses and health counselors.

The plan requires employees to take up to twenty (20) unpaid furlough days between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The number of mandatory furlough days has been scaled per pay level and length of annual work schedule (9 months, 10.5 months, 12 months.)

During a furlough, affected employees shall be entitled to participate in the same state benefits as otherwise available to them except for receiving their salaries. Winthrop will be responsible for making both employer and employee contributions for State benefits if coverage would be lost due to the mandatory furlough. This applies to benefits that require employer and employee contributions. Winthrop will be required to pay both the employee and employer retirement contributions on missed wages due to the furlough. The employee remains responsible for making contributions that only require employee contributions. The University will not pay the employee portion of benefits contributions for working retirees.

We anticipate the cost savings of the mandatory furlough program will be approximately three million dollars for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year.

The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.


Executive Session

Tim Hopkins moved with a second from Janet Smalley 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 and Lars Larsen were invited to remain for portions of the executive session.

Isaiah Venning moved to end executive session with no report. Sandra Stroman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session.



Hearing no objections, Chair McCall adjourned the meeting at 3:26 p.m.

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