For the last thirty years, Debra Boyd has found herself somewhere in the Blue Line procession after each Convocation ceremony held in August.
But Monday, Boyd and her husband Warren found themselves leading the line of trustees, faculty, staff and students for the first time.
It’s one of the few public moments Boyd has spent in the limelight since the trustees appointed her Chief Executive Officer and later Acting President following the dismissal of Jamie Comstock Williamson, who served the Rock Hill school for just under a year.
But outside the news media, administration, faculty and staff, few took notice of who was leading the processional rooted in the university’s deep history.
And that’s just how Debra Boyd wanted it.
“Although I am Winthrop’s Acting President, I am also Winthrop’s Provost. And this combination provides me with a unique perspective,” Boyd told the crowd of more than 1,000 incoming freshmen. “Winthrop is indeed fortunate because the faculty you see before you are among the best anywhere.”
Echoing her August 20 address the university’s faculty and staff, Boyd called on the Team Winthrop approach to doing business. “We are successful when the team is successful,” she said.
Boyd and guest speaker Gary Simrill both praised the service of longtime Alumni Relations Director Debbie Garrick, who has accepted a job with the City of Rock Hill. Garrick, a Winthrop alumnae, has worked for the university for the last 18 years.
“She lifted me up, she took me under her wing and she taught me the great parts of having a college education,” Simrill said. “And, more importantly, not giving up.”
In the early years, the university’s Blue Line procession followed a Sunday morning Convocation ceremony, where students were then required to attend religious services at one of several churches down Oakland Avenue, many within walking distance.
Today’ students join in the short walk to the front campus of the university for a community-wide picnic.