Winthrop trustees name new president

Posted February 15, 2013 12:30 pm | Filed under Local News

Winthrop University’s Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Jayne Marie Comstock as the school’s tenth president Friday.

The decision came after the board spent nearly 45 minutes in Executive Session Friday afternoon after hearing comments from four members of the school’s faculty questioning Comstock’s ability to serve as an effective leader.

The comments came after a member of the faculty at Butler University’s English Department said Comstock was wrong to have Butler sue a student for posting, at the time, anonymous comments against her on a public website.

The Rock Hill Herald reports a libel suit was filed against the student after he complained a member of Butler’s staff was wrongly fired. Butler and Comstock said they both dropped the suit after learning the defendant was a student.

The four members of the university faculty speaking out against Comstock Friday morning said she would bring undue negative press to the university, and the remaining two candidates for the job were equally qualified and did not come with the negative press.

Dr. Stephen Smith, a professor of Political Science, told the board they would, “do no harm,” by selecting one of the other candidates. Smith later spoke with WRHI after the news of Comstock’s choosing.

The board went into Executive Session following the public comment period. Once in open session, the board made a unanimous vote for Comstock.

Winthrop Board Chair Dalton Floyd offered Comstock the new position via a mid-day call to her Washington, D.C., office. Floyd reported the just-concluded unanimous vote of the trustees, then added, “so I am now authorized to officially offer you the opportunity to become the next president of Winthrop University. Do you accept?”

“Yes,” Comstock replied. “I am so very pleased to have been selected as the next president of Winthrop. I am also honored by the confidence the Board of Trustees has given me and the trust they have placed in me for the care and advancement of this wonderful university.  I am absolutely convinced that building upon the great progress of President DiGiorgio, that the university can move to even greater accomplishments in the future.”

Audio: Comstock’s statement

Floyd said he was pleased with Constock’s choice.

Comstock, 55, is expected to schedule a return trip to Rock Hill in the near future to formalize the agreement, once the S.C. Agency Head Salary Commission approves a salary for her. The board has recommended a state salary of $169,970.