Winthrop greets 10th president, Jayne Marie Comstock

adouglas@heraldonline.comMarch 21, 2013 

Winthrop University hosted its new president Jayne Marie Comstock on Thursday –celebrating her arrival and the number 10.

Comstock – the university’s 10th president – gave a short speech, sharing her top 10 reasons for choosing Winthrop.

While the school’s trustees Chairman Dalton Floyd introduced Comstock, he gave the board’s top 10 reasons for hiring her.

Beyond Comstock’s professional and educational qualifications, Floyd said, the new president will fit right in when she takes office in Tillman Hall on July 1.

Floyd trusts Comstock’s leadership, he said, and feels certain she’ll get along socially with colleagues in the president’s office because she’s well-read, loves chocolate and red wine.

“There’s a long-standing Winthrop president (tradition) that shouldn’t be broken,” he said. “And garnet wine is one of them.”

During the campus visit, board members gave Comstock several gifts with garnet themes – one of Winthrop’s two school colors.

Winthrop, Comstock said, has “captured” her heart.

She and her husband, Larry Williamson, spent Thursday afternoon in Winthrop’s West Center with about 140 people from the campus – mostly faculty and staff members – there to greet the university’s next first couple.

“Winthrop University is our campus home, and Rock Hill is our new hometown,” she said.

Comstock has spent more than 20 years working in higher education – first as a professor and most recently at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., as director of the organization’s executive leadership group.

Winthrop’s presidential post is her first time as a university president, not counting times she served as Butler University’s interim president.

Her time at Winthrop, she said, will close out her career.

“I expect this to be my last job,” Comstock said.

On Thursday, she held up a file folder full of congratulatory emails and cards that she says she’ll put into a scrapbook soon.

Among her top 10 reasons for accepting the Winthrop post are the university’s “top-notch” academic programs, its focus on global learning and the “groundswell of support for Winthrop across the region,” Comstock said.

Winthrop is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best public institutions, she said.

“But I think there’s still good work for us to do here,” Comstock said. “The best is still yet to come for Winthrop.”

Faculty members clapped when Comstock said she wants to help every Winthrop student succeed and noted that the university’s athletes record some of the highest grades and graduation rates.

That success, she said, should be the goal for all students – not just athletes.

Comstock – a one-time cheerleader – told the crowd, “You can count on me to be the number one cheerleader for our Winthrop Eagles.”

She asked the campus community to give her their “best advice” and continue the show of support on display Thursday.

“We want to make this place our home,” she said.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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