Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees

Friday, April 9, 2021 | 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, Julie Fowler, Tim Sease, Sandra Stroman, John Brazell, President George W. Hynd (ex-officio)

Members absent: None

Representatives present: Brandon Jackson, Adolphus Belk, Jr

Representatives absent:


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, April 9, 2021 on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.

Call to Order

Chair McCall called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. He welcomed all present and delivered an invocation. He asked that all present remember the recent passing of Dr. Robert Lesslie and his family. Dr. Lesslie served the Winthrop campus for many years as a supervising physician.

Senator Wes Climer of District 15 attended the meeting to administer the Oath of Office for our newest Trustee, Mr. John Brazell. While Mr. Brazell joined the Board in July, the oath was postponed during COVID-19 campus restrictions.

Approval of Minutes of February 19 and 20, 2021 and April 2, 2021

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

Report from the Executive Committee and Chair

Chair McCall announced the formation of the ad hoc Committee on Nominations as specified in the bylaws. Sandra Stroman, Isaiah Venning, and Julie Fowler, as chair, were charged with identifying candidates for the positions of chair and vice chair. Mr. McCall urged the entire Board to contact the committee members if they had suggestions for candidates or if they wanted to self-nominate.

Report from the President

President Hynd began his report by referencing the blue and silver pinwheels near Bancroft Hall. The Social Work program placed the pinwheels to raise awareness about child abuse. Also seen on campus today is a flurry of activity by volunteers as they spruce up and plant flowers and new shrubs as part of the Campus Beautification Plan. We have already had off-campus volunteers work to beautify the Sumter Gate entrance to the Coliseum parking lot.

In the next few weeks, the campus will hold a number of events. April 15 is scheduled as “A Day of Understanding” as an effort for members of our university community to share personal stories and moments of bravery upon encountering bias. On April 16 we will hold the Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE). This is an annual event in which Winthrop undergraduates from all disciplines can present or perform their scholarly and creative work. The final spring break day will be April 19. Finally, on April 27 will be the Faculty, Staff and Retirees Awards Ceremony.

We’re excited to announce a return to in-person commencement ceremonies. About 750 undergraduate and 230 graduate students will graduate this May. To maximize capacity for graduates and guests, the platform party will be limited to those with an active role in the proceedings.

We continue to do well with mitigating COVID risk on campus. Throughout the academic year, our isolation and quarantine facility has remained well below full capacity. DHEC testing continues to be available at the North Parking lot at the Coliseum and working with the City of Rock Hill, we had two Winthrop faculty & staff vaccine days at the Galleria when several hundred faculty and staff participated. Additionally, about 500 students have been vaccinated.

While we have many positive things happening on campus (as noted above) the president acknowledged that this has been the most difficult and challenging year for our students, faculty, and staff. Everyone did their best to rise to the challenges during this most difficult and stressful year. The president acknowledged with great appreciation – and admiration – our staff as they have come back to work full time. Throughout the year, whether working remote or now back on campus, many have assumed the duties of staff who have left behind unfilled positions due to our budget cuts. Our faculty also deserve thanks as they finish an academic year they never could have imagined. He thanked them for always trying their best to deliver the course content in new and different ways.

Finally, to our students, despite the incredible challenges of this year, and there have been many, they wore masks when they didn’t want to, put up with frustrations of on-line course work that seemed overwhelming at times, experienced the frustrations of weak wifi, and dropped signals, and occasional cold showers in our residence halls. They deserve all the credit for making this a safe campus during a pandemic.

Report from the Committee on Compensation

Committee Chair Kathy Bigham introduced Ms. Semeka Randall Lay as the new Women’s Head Basketball Coach. Coach Randall-Lay was our interim head coach last after serving as assistant head coach for the 2019-20 season. Before joining the Eagles, she spent the 2018-19 season at the University of Cincinnati as an assistant coach. Prior to that position, she spent two seasons at Wright State as an assistant coach. She has also been a head coach at Ohio University and Alabama A & M.

A standout guard at Tennessee from 1998-2001, Randall-Lay earned Kodak All-America First Team honors in 1999 and 2000. She was an integral part of Tennessee’s 1998 NCAA Championship team that went 39-0, averaging 15.9 points a game while earning honorable mention All-America recognition. In addition to her All-America honors, she was named the Women’s Basketball Journal’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000, First Team All-Southeast­ern Conference in 1999 and 2000, Second Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman Team in 1998, and was on the NCAA Mideast Regional All-Tournament team in 1998 and 2000.

The Committee reviewed the voluntary separation program for tenured and tenure-track faculty who have been employed with Winthrop for a minimum of 10 years. The deadline for faculty to apply is April 10, 2021. As of today, five faculty members have applied, which will be a savings of approximately $500,000 to be realized in the next fiscal year.

The Committee also discussed the return to work order from the state Human Resources division. The university was given two days to submit a plan for all employees to return to work, which was approved fairly quickly by state Human Resources. One of the biggest challenges is employees who have had issues finding afterschool care for their children. The Rock Hill School District superintendent waived the requirement for students to continue virtual academy for Winthrop employees so their children could move to in-person classes. Ms. Bigham emphasized the Board of Trustees’ challenge with balancing the need to retain students while keeping faculty, staff, and students safe when returning to campus.

Report from the Committee on Academic Quality

Chair Janet Smalley reported on the meeting of the Committee on Academic Quality. The Committee heard good news about the four program reviews completed this semester. The external reviewers were impressed with our programs as well as the alumni from those programs.

The Committee reviewed Academic Master Planning work involving key. A final report will be completed in time for the Board of Trustees June meeting. Implementation of an annual program review process will begin in AY 2021-2022.

In reviewing the Academic Master Plan progress, Provost McCormick discussed a key aspect of enrollment health and increasing access and degree attainment as strengthening our transfer relationships, especially with York Tech and Clinton College. Winthrop is in the process of creating guided pathways for key programs and establishing a strong platform to build upon. This aligns with CHE’s Public Agenda Implementation Plan. We are currently working to identify and eliminate transfer barriers and to articulate key collaboration areas. We have finalized 18 pathways with York Tech and are working toward additional pathways with Clinton College.

SACSCOC work continues as staff synthesize the reaffirmation report into a single document with a unified voice. As part of this progress, we have reviewed and updated many policies in the Policy Repository. Likewise, the QEP Topic Development Committee has begun to identify recommendations to improve the career readiness of our graduates with an emphasis on experiential learning.

Chair Smalley announced that Dr. Jennifer Jordan was elected as the next Chair of the Faculty Conference during elections held in February. Dr. Jordan is a Professor of Counseling and Development in the College of Education. She was the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Jane LaRoche Graduate Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction.

Although the Finance Committee regarding tuition adjustments will take action, the Academic Quality Committee discussed the need to reinstate the LEAP Fee. Provisionally admitted students matriculating to Winthrop University have historically been required to participate in the Learning Excellent Academic Practices (LEAP) Program and pay a LEAP fee. The fee was discontinued but now it is to be reinstated.

The Committee also heard plans regarding a model to incentivize summer school programmatic and curricular innovation in departments and colleges. Academic leadership is currently reviewing potential compensation models for instruction that will be cost neutral but lay the foundation for innovation and a revenue-share model.

Report from the Committee on Enrollment and Retention

Chair Julie Fowler reported on data from the enrollment dashboards. While enrollment numbers are lagging, undergraduate applications continue to steadily increase and admitted students are registering for orientation and paying their deposit, which are the two biggest indicators of enrollment. Transfer applications are up compared to this same time last year. Graduate enrollment continues to increase, caused by increase in campus-based graduate programs and maturation of online enrollment in first suite of 100% online graduate programs.

The division has four short-term goals including to have more prospective students on campus by developing new events welcoming students to campus over the summer to drive up yield, while also building and implementing recruitment strategies for Fall 2022 recruitment; build a marketing plan that focuses on initiatives that deliver ROI and future enrollment. The marketing plan includes elevation and promotion of enrollment-driving academic programs; revise dashboard reporting to include disaggregated student data based on revenue types of enrollment and net revenue comparison and projections; and finally, to restructure new student orientation that emphasizes continued recruitment of prospective students.

The Committee also heard about the marketing efforts for recruitment of new students, which includes further developing the enrollment marketing team, engaging a new enrollment search partner, and collaborating with University Communications and Marketing. The enrollment marketing team will develop sales-focused messaging, identify and promote ROI/outcomes, create messaging for academic programs, gather and share student testimonials, and develop interactive webpages with calls to action. This will be accomplished in collaboration with UCM, academic programs, and campus partners. The new enrollment search partner will provide predictive modeling, website tracking, student rating based on likelihood of attending, communication (digital and traditional), targeted digital advertising, and more

Chair Fowler brought forth a resolution from the Committee to Extend Adjusted Admissions Criteria for Two Additional Admissions Cycles, from Fall 2021-Fall 2023. The reasons for this action are to provide current juniors (Fall 2022 Applicants) who have not had access to testing sites the opportunity to apply to Winthrop, to better position Winthrop within competitive higher education landscape. Winthrop will be in line with being test optional by our biggest competitors in South Carolina, to allow time for more accurate analysis of enrollment, retention, and academic progress data at scale over a period of time. The three-year test-optional pilot will produce a critical data set for an accurate assessment of how variation in high school GPA is predictive of satisfactory academic progress, both for in-state and out-of-state students, and to proactively move Winthrop to a competitive position within a post-COVID recruitment and enrollment environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the recruitment process, as universities make accommodations for applicants during this time, and offering a test optional admissions standard has become one element of the post-Covid “new normal” in higher education.

Needing no second, Chair McCall called for a vote. The vote was 11 in favor of the resolution, two opposed, two abstentions. The resolution passed with a majority of the vote.

Committee on Finance

Chair Imler, on behalf of the Committee, brought forth one resolution for Board consideration and vote. The Resolution Regarding the Tuition Rates for New Online Graduate Programs As Well As Tuition Adjustments for Campus-Based MBA Program and a New LEAP Fee for the 2021-22 Academic Year was presented to the Board for a vote. The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.

The Committee reviewed a second resolution regarding orientation fees, housing application fee, and rescission of the enrollment deposit for Fall 2022. While the Committee was supportive of the resolution, they believe additional information and data are required before presenting to the Board for a vote. Therefore, the resolution was tabled.

The Committee discussed progress on the capital projects and was especially thankful to Chris Johnson for his creation of the Current Capital Renewal & Major Maintenance Projects webpage.

Committee on Institutional Advancement and Development

Chair Sease reported on the creation of the Student Emergency Fund to assist students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund raised over $140,000 from more than 300 donors and has assisted 52 students to date. The 2021 Day of Giving will be a 24-hour giving event that will take place from noon to noon, May 4-5, 2021, with fund raising challenges throughout the day. The goal is to reach 500 donors to give to Winthrop.

The Committee heard a report on marketing from Katie Price. Discussed in the presentation was the role and impact of marketing in higher education and specifically to Winthrop in Alumni Relations, University Advancement, University Events, Athletics, Enrollment and Recruitment as well as retail on campus. Marketing primarily serves as an avenue to grow the university’s prospective student list and move them into the enrollment funnel. As far as advertising, it provides calls-to-action for students, whether it is visit our website, contact us, register for a tour and/or event or apply to Winthrop University.

In an in-depth discussion regarding marketing and the lack of funds/resources dedicated to marketing department in the University Relations, UCM division, Mr. Tim Sease and committee members conferred with Interim President Hynd for feedback and/or suggestions on an approach necessary for requesting a one-time centralized marketing allocation.

Chair Sease brought forth two resolutions to the Board for consideration. The first was to request Dr. Hynd earmark at least $50,000, in the current fiscal year, for immediate University Communications and Marketing centralized marketing use and also charged Dr. Hynd with allocating additional annual funding in the budget for ongoing marketing needs. The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.

The second resolution was to adopt a naming policy. The Resolution Authorizing the Adoption of a Policy Governing the Naming of University Facilities, Units and Positions was presented to the Board. The policy defines the roles of the Board of Trustees and administration in the management and implementation of naming opportunities. This policy aims to ensure consistency in the naming of facilities, units and positions across the institution and establish naming and re-naming principles that reflect the University’s values. The vote was unanimous in favor of the resolution.

Committee on Student Life and Athletics

Chair Hopkins reported on the discussions held in the Committee meeting regarding COVID-19 updates from Student Affairs. A spring COVID-19 testing protocol required any student having face-to-face classes, living in residence halls, or working on campus to have a negative test prior to returning to campus in January. Initial testing identified 111 COVID positive students. These students were provided services needed to get them safely back on campus. More than 570 students took advantage of a Winthrop sponsored opportunity to be vaccinated. VP Burkhalter expressed pride in what the campus has done with respect to COVID management and compliance.

The Committee also learned of plans for new student and transfer student orientation. Orientation typically takes place in June and July, in person. The campus community is not yet ready to host in person experiences with external audiences. Thus, similar to last summer, this summer we will offer a two-part Orientation experience. The first part will be First Flight, which will be virtual and synchronous. New this year, advisors are building freshmen schedules based upon the information we have on file for them (i.e., transcripts). This methodology is being used to combat students’ unresponsiveness to contacting advisors to build their schedules post First Flight last summer. While pre-populating student schedules is new for Winthrop, many other institutions regularly do this. Part two of orientation, Eagles Landing, is scheduled for July and August. At that time, students will meet their orientation leader, faculty mentors, student affairs staff, and other students; learn about campus resources and offices; participate in campus tours; and other in-person community experiences. There will not be an overnight experience, students will come in for the day. Students living farther away can sign up for a later session or attend virtually.

From Athletics, the Committee heard about the division’s efforts to build a sustainable model in consideration of adding an additional women’s sports team. Winthrop has a demonstrated history of adding women’s sports with the most recent being Women’s Lacrosse

Currently, there are several options that appear to be financially feasible including Beach Volleyball, Wrestling, Triathlon, Swimming & Diving as well as Acrobatics and Tumbling.

Athletics is currently operating all of their sports concurrently this semester with Men’s and Women’s Basketball having recently concluded. The two greatest challenges have been staffing through the hiring freeze as well as anticipating and managing the NCAA mandated COVID testing requirements.

Moving forward for Fall 2021, the division is preparing for a fully normal year and beginning to schedule games accordingly. Success from basketball was not only visible but also financial. By winning the Big South men’s basketball tournament in 2019 Winthrop earned an additional $100,000 distribution as the Conference Champion. Winthrop earned this same $100,000 distribution this year as the Big South Champions but we also earned an additional $75,000 for earning a 12-seed or higher in the NCAA Tournament.

Report of Faculty Representative

Dr. Belk began his report by reminding the Trustees they are welcome to attend the meetings of the faculty conference as those meetings are open to the public.

He continued by mentioning four faculty and staff who have recently passed away including William “Bill” Fisher (Mass Communications), Joel Nichols, Jr. (photographer), Bruce A. Thompson (Music), and Danny Turner (Mathematics).

Actions of note from faculty conference are the waiving of six cultural event credits for undergraduate students whose degrees will be conferred in May 2021, moving the deadline to elect S/U grade to Friday, April 23, 2021, and eliminating the “75 hour rule” (i.e., when students are expected to complete WRIT 101, HMXP 102, and CRTW 201).

Dr. Belk reported on a resolution the Faculty Committee on University Priorities (FCUP) presented to the Faculty Conference. The resolution calls for the university administration and Board to address the gross inequities between administration and faculty hires and salaries with all deliberate speed. It also asks that the university administration share Salary and Compensation Study data with the entire faculty and begin implementation of faculty salary adjustments this semester. The comprehensive study results were to be released in spring 2020. Additionally, they asked that the administration should develop and share a plan to address the compressed salaries of existing faculty members within departments and across the university and to right-size administrative positions given our current financial situation.

Dr. Belk shared faculty concerns about returning to campus as well as noting the administration should acknowledge faculty efforts with more than expressions of gratitude including being creative to make faculty work less onerous.

Report of Student Representative

Mr. Brandon Jackson began his report by discussing Garnet Table Talk program. The most recent effort focused on advising, which included the positives, negatives, and solutions for the negative aspects of the advising experience from the student’s perspective. Students noted that they enjoyed having the one-on-one time with their advisor and appreciated the flexibility of their advisor in light of COVID-19. Students felt that their advisors are doing the best they can to advise in the middle of a pandemic and appreciate the effort their advisors are putting forth. However, students did note that they wish their advising appointments were longer, specifically seeking appointments between 10 and 25 minutes. Furthermore, students found it difficult when they approach their advisors with questions, and their advisor did not know the answer. Several times, the advisor doesn’t follow up from that interaction, thereby forcing the student to do so. All comments and suggestions from this “Garnet Table Talk” were sent to Faculty in a recorded video.

As the semester progresses, students are beginning to receive more information about how the Fall 2021 semester will look at Winthrop University. Students are looking forward to returning to a state of normalcy; however, health and safety is still of the utmost importance. Students have continuously expressed a feeling of disconnection and disengagement, and would like to see more in-person events in the Fall semester.

Students are excited about the plans to have an in-person commencement ceremony in May.

Election season has officially begun for the Council of Student Leaders. Campaigning began on Monday, March 15 and voting will take later this month.

As referenced in prior reports, the Council of Student Leaders ad-hoc Constitution Committee has been working diligently to make improvements to the current constitution. Board members should look forward to a proposed Council of Student Leaders Constitution at the June Board of Trustees meeting.

Executive Session

Julie Fowler 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 personnel issues and legal matters. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

Chris Johnson, Kelly Huber, Justin Oates, Adrienne McCormick, Caroline Overcash, and Kimberly Faust were invited to remain for portions of the executive session.


Chair McCall recessed the executive session at noon for a lunch break with plans to reconvene at 1:00 p.m.

Return to Meeting

Chair McCall reconvened the meeting in executive session at 1:00 p.m.

Tim Hopkins moved to end executive session. Janet Smalley seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to end executive session.


Hearing no objections, Chair McCall adjourned the meeting at 3:29 p.m.

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