Winthrop trustees seeking Foundation funds to pay for presidential search

Posted August 25, 2014 11:06 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

Winthrop University’s Board of Trustees Monday approved a plan to ask the non-profit Winthrop University Foundation to pay for the search for the school’s eleventh president.

After nearly an hour in Executive Session, the trustees voted unanimously in favor of the plan.

A typical presidential search for an institution Winthrop’s size would cost around $75,000, board vice-chairman Karl Folkens said, describing the foundation-funded plan as a way of “exploring new avenues for funding different aspects of the president, including this search.”

The Rock Hill Herald has reported the university spent approximately $127,000 on its search in 2012 and 2013 with Greenwood Asher and Associates, a Miramar Beach, Fla. firm that ultimately led the trustees to four finalists, including the now fired president, Jamie Comstock Williamson.

Folkens said Greenwood-Asher would not be considered again.

“We were not willing to explore that option,” Folkens said “We want to take a fresh look at the presidential search firms that are out there.”

Earlier this month, board members expressed an interest in paying closer attention to feedback from the university’s faculty and staff. One board member explained to WRHI that the vetting process wasn’t as through as it could have been.

“This search is going to be unique. It need to be specialized, it needs to be targeted, it needs to be tailor-made to the current situation at Winthrop, Folkens said. “We think Winthrop offers the next president a very unique opportunity and it’s going to take a very specialized approach to make that happen.”

The Winthrop University Foundation has historically given the president a salary supplement in addition to his or her state salary. Folkens said that since the Foundation is not currently paying a supplement, they could afford to assist with the process.

In 2013, the latest year that financial figures were available, the Winthrop Foundation recorded $7.7 million in revenues and reported $46.8 million in total assets. The Foundation spent $2.3 million in program-related expenses and a total of $185,000 on employee salaries, including a $100,000 salary supplement for former Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio, Executive Director Kim Keel and $65,000 in a salary supplement for Williamson.

The Winthrop University Foundation Board is scheduled to meet and consider the trustees’ proposal in September.