Jayne Marie Comstock, Winthrop Universitys 10th president, took office on Monday morning, telling the campus shes proud to start the listening phase of her tenure.
Comstock and her husband Larry Williamson received a warm welcome around 9 a.m. in the lobby at Tillman Hall.
The couple held hands as they walked on Alumni Drive from their on-campus home to Winthrops administrative building.
Walking up the steps to Tillman Hall, she said, overwhelmed her with a combination of pride and humility to have the honor of leading this remarkable institution.
Later, in an email, Comstock invited students, faculty and staff to schedule face-to-face meetings with her.
Comstock also made a point of joining the universitys Blue Line Society and the athletic departments Eagle Club, saying that making a personal financial contribution to each was symbolically important.
Were putting our own personal resources in support of this institution and our student athletes, she said. Thats one of the first things we wanted to do.
The Blue Line Society supports the Winthrop University Foundation, with donors giving $1,000 or more annually. Winthrops blue line is symbolic at the beginning of the academic year during convocation each fall, welcoming freshmen to campus.
The Eagle Club is the Winthrop athletics booster club, supporting the universitys intercollegiate sports teams and scholarships for athletes.
Comstocks first-day calendar was packed. Morning meetings with the presidents office staff were followed by lunch with vice president for academic affairs Debra Boyd and chemistry professor Cliff Calloway, the outgoing faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.
In the afternoon, she met with educational leadership professor Mark Mitchell to discuss upcoming alumni events and met with students participating in Winthrops summer undergraduate research experience program.
Winthrop students have an open invitation to register for 10-minute slots to meet Comstock at the on-campus Starbucks when they start classes this fall.
Similar to retired Winthrop President Anthony DiGiorgios open office hours, Comstock will host the face-time sessions to allow students to ask questions and voice concerns.
She also plans to maintain a blog on the universitys website winthrop.edu to publish her thoughts on higher education issues.
In her first post, titled Job One on Day One, Comstock wrote that improving degree attainment will be one of her top priorities at Winthrop.
Access to quality higher education, she wrote, regardless of a persons socio-economic class, is what matters most. Compared to the rest of the nation, she write, South Carolina falls behind the curve in the number of residents with college degrees, and that is unacceptable.
To help more people obtain a college education, Comstock wrote that she wants to strengthen Winthrops partnerships with technical and community colleges and local schools.
Using effective innovations to deliver academic services to working adult students, she wrote, will not only improve college education attainment rates but also boost Winthrops degree completion rates.
Comstock was hired in February by unanimous vote of the schools Board of Trustees.
DiGiorgio announced his retirement more than a year ago. After 24 years as president, his final day was Sunday.
Comstock and Williamson moved into the on-campus presidents house , last month with their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Cocoa.
The couple is enjoying the home and Cocoa visited Tillman over the weekend as Comstock set up her new office, she said Monday.
Some furniture for their home is still on its way, she said. Its like Christmas every day, as something new arrives so its very fun.
Comstock expected her first day to be busy, she said, but not as packed as her schedule will be once students swarm campus in August for convocation and the first day of class on Aug. 20.
Jayne Marie Comstock
Winthrop Universitys 10th president
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068