Acting Winthrop President: Team approach key to school’s future

Posted August 19, 2014 8:46 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

It comes as no surprise that Winthrop University’s acting president is looking to her own faculty and staff to develop a team approach to moving the university forward.


Debra Boyd chats with university staff at a reception following her opening address Tuesday.

Boyd, a former English professor, rose through the ranks of academia during her 30-year career at Winthrop, and was recently named the university’s Chief Executive Officer — and later Acting President — following the firing of Jamie Williamson in June.

Boyd’s husband, Warren, said Tuesday that neither Debra or he expected to be thrust into the public eye June 13. Warren Boyd said his wife called him after the trustees decided during the television news hour — 6 o’clock on a Friday — to say she was now the university’s Chief Executive.

Tuesday morning, Acting President Boyd delivered a 15-minute speech that, as tradition holds, is the unofficial start to the fall semester. Unlike her predecessor, Williamson, Boyd’s speech was seven pages double-spaced, and lasted about 15 minutes.

“Without question, our top priority must be to increase student enrollment, retention and degree completion,” Boyd said in her remarks. “The achievement of all other goals is dependent on aligning the size of our student body with the capacity of our campus.”

This follows a series of grand plans unveiled earlier this year by Williamson to increase the university’s student body by 1,000 students over a five-year period. Additional staff and executive staff were hired to help achieve that goal, one that Boyd intends on keeping.

“It’s very clear to me that this year is a year of action,” Boyd said. “Not only will we be searching for a new president but we must be willing to take a hard look at what we do, how we do it, the context in which we’re working and strategically align our actions with our mission.”

Under a new slogan of “Team Winthrop,” and an inspirational video, Boyd stressed the importance for every employee — from the maintenance worker cutting the grass to the dean conveying degrees — to understand their impact on students.

In a moment of levity, Boyd recognized members of the press among the other dignitaries, trustees and new faculty present for the address.

“Let’s also recognize some folks whom we’ve gotten very acquainted with over the summer — our colleagues in the media,” Boyd said, followed by laughter in the audience. Investigative reports written by Winthrop alumni both at WRHI and The Rock Hill Herald have unveiled much of the public reasons for Williamson’s firing.

“Some of them we’ve taught, some are alums….It is important for us to recognize the critical role of a free press in a democracy.”

Later this week, Winthrop freshmen move in to their on-campus dorms. Classes start August 25.


Attachment: Boyd’s remarks on the media.