Meeting of the Winthrop University Board of Trustees Executive Committee

Thursday, April 11, 2024 | 10:30 a.m.

Carroll Hall | Minerd Executive Seminar Room
Winthrop University | Rock Hill, South Carolina


Committee Members Present
Glenn McCall, Kathy Bigham, Gary Williams, Tim Sease (via conference call), Dr. David McDonald (via conference call)

Committee Members Absent
Ed Driggers

Others Present
Dr. Randy Imler (Trustee), Dr. Edward A. Serna (President), Dr. Sebastian van Delden (Provost), and Todd Hagins (General Counsel and Secretary to the Board)




Public Notice

Pursuant to state law, Winthrop University published a notice to the public on its website providing the meeting agenda on, and a notice affixed outside the meeting location on June 13, 2024.

Call to Order

A quorum being present, following an invocation, Chairman McCall called the meeting to order at 10:39 a.m.

Approval of Minutes

Chairman McCall moved to adopt the Executive Committee minutes from September 28, 2023. With no objection, the Executive Committee adopted the minutes.

Report from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Chairman McCall thanked those in attendance live and via phone conference.

Report from the President of Winthrop University    

President Serna provided the following report to the Executive Committee:

Enrollment Update

President Serna began the meeting by providing an in-depth analysis of the freshman admissions process. He reported that Winthrop University received 7,357 applications this year, marking a significant increase—a 31% rise from last year and an impressive 48% from two years ago. This surge in applications signifies the growing interest and expanding appeal of the university. President Serna informed the committee that 6,010 students had been admitted, a 39% increase from the previous year and a 69% increase over the last two years, underscoring the university’s competitive stance and commitment to expanding its student body.

Despite nationwide challenges with the FAFSA process, which have been a concern, President Serna highlighted a commendable 10% increase in freshman orientation sign-ups. This increase indicates a strong commitment from incoming students and a robust start to their academic journey at Winthrop.

President Serna reviewed the implementation of the Tuition Transparency Initiative, launched to enhance financial transparency across the university. He reported that this initiative has garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback, particularly during Winthrop Day—an event that saw a 32% increase in attendance from the previous year. He emphasized the success of Winthrop Day, noting significant student and family engagement and over 20 enrollment deposits collected on-site, suggesting strong future student retention and financial stability.

FAFSA Implementation Challenges

President Serna addressed the challenges related to the FAFSA implementation. He explained that a large number of FAFSA applications received from the Department of Education contained significant errors due to issues with data transfer. To mitigate these issues, Winthrop will proactively contact all admitted students within the next two weeks to verify and correct their FAFSA information. President Serna stated that this proactive approach positions Winthrop ahead of several peer institutions in managing these challenges efficiently.

Board-Requested Items

The discussion shifted to Pell Grant eligibility. President Serna informed the committee that the eligibility breakdown remains uncertain due to nationwide FAFSA submission errors. However, the admissions office is actively working to rectify this and will provide a detailed report as more information becomes available.

Regarding E-Sports enrollment, President Serna acknowledged headwinds in accurately tracking this area and directed Admissions to lead in creating a structured approach that Athletics must follow. He also presented comprehensive demographic data of admitted and enrolled students, which is available for review by the board, providing detailed insights into the student population's evolving profile.

Finance – Budget

President Serna provided an overview of the FY2024 Year-To-Date Budget, noting that current projections align well with financial goals despite some anticipated shortfalls in Tuition & Fee Revenues, projected to be between $250K and $500K lower due to a slight decrease in graduate enrollment. He highlighted a positive development in State Appropriations, which have increased by over $1 million, aiding in general salary increases.

Looking ahead to FY2025, President Serna discussed budget planning efforts aimed at reducing expense budgets by approximately $1.5 million. He explained that the planning process is influenced by factors such as enrollment projections and state support, with a specific focus on strategies to mitigate tuition increases, which could impact the budget by an estimated $1 to $1.7 million.

Finance – Advancement

The Advancement Office reported substantial fundraising success. President Serna announced a 77% increase in total fundraising year over year as of March 31st, bringing in $3.23 million. This surge highlights the effectiveness of current strategies and the ongoing commitment of donors. He mentioned that the upcoming Day of Giving campaign, scheduled for April 16th and 17th, aims to secure a minimum of 1,000 donors, surpassing last year’s total.

Student Housing

President Serna provided an update on student housing, revealing that negotiations with a housing provider to lease 322 beds are in an advanced stage. The structured agreement is for a three-year term with potential extensions, including provisions to limit the university's financial exposure in case of unforeseen events, such as a pandemic resurgence.

Academics – Summer 2024 Enrollment Report

The meeting concluded with President Serna presenting the Summer 2024 enrollment report, which reflected the successful implementation of strategic changes in the summer online programs. He detailed that these changes led to a significant increase in enrollment and credit hour production, with the introduction of pilot micro certificates enabling students to gain specific professional skillsets. The detailed figures provided by President Serna demonstrated a 33.8% increase in credit hours compared to Summer 2023, confirming the effectiveness of these strategic initiatives.

Report from the Provost of Winthrop University        

Provost van Delden provided the Committee with the following updates:


The Provost informed the Committee that the Competency Based Education (CBE) program is on pace. The Administration will be moving forward with a provider by the June meeting and will also brining recommendations on fees.


Provost van Delden provided the Committee with an overview of recent approvals and submissions to the Council on Higher Education (CHE) concerning academic programs. The executive committee learned more concerning the timelines of implementation of new academic programs. The Provost noted most of the programs recently approved are renaming programs to more align with market nomenclature or the development of some smaller programs. Provost van Delden stated that the Office of the Provost will have a timeline for the Board to review in its June meeting.

Honors College

Provost van Delden gave an update on the Honors College. The update included the ideas reception in the business community, plans to reach out to more manufacturing business, and to partner with the local Chamber of Commerce. The Provost gave a timeline and overview of the Honors College Dean selection process.

College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Search

The Provost provided the Executive Committee with an overview of the process to select the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). He noted Dr. Karen Oremus is acting Dean and will provide a presentation to the University community as part of the selection process.

Planning and Review for the April Board Meeting

Chairman McCall reviewed the itinerary and agenda for the April Board of Trustees meeting. Each chair, who was present, provided the Committee with a brief overview of the areas they asked the Vice Presidents to focus on.

Executive Session

Mr. Williams made a motion for the Committee to move into executive session. The motion was adopted without objection. Chairman McCall asked both President Serna and Mr. Hagins to remain.

Ms. Bigham made a motion to end executive session. Such motion was seconded and approved by unanimous voice vote. Chairman McCall noted no votes were taken during the session.


There being no further business before the Committee, Ms. Bigham made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded and passed with no objection.

The Committee adjourned at 2:08 p.m.