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July 8, 2014

SC panel: Winthrop's interim president can keep current salary

State officials signed off today on Winthrop University's acting president to keep her current salary of $162,537 while temporarily serving as the school's agency head.

Winthrop University’s acting president can keep her current salary of $162,537 while temporarily serving as the school’s agency head, state officials said on Wednesday.

The S.C. Agency Head Salary Commission in Columbia unanimously approved on Wednesday morning Winthrop’s request that Provost Debra Boyd retain her salary although the annual pay exceeds the base pay level the commission has set for the university’s agency head.

Boyd, who is in her 30th year at the university, is not receiving a pay raise from Winthrop to serve as acting president. She’s still performing her role of the university’s chief academic officer while filling in as president.

Winthrop trustees appointed Boyd – current provost and vice president for academic affairs – to acting president, beginning June 13.

The board’s unanimous decision to select Boyd came after trustees suspended former Winthrop President Jamie Comstock Williamson on June 13. Two weeks later, the board fired Williamson. She spent less than one year in office.

Trustees have said they’ll consider naming an interim president in the coming weeks.

This week, the university needed state approval to continue paying Boyd $162,537 because public institutions must have permission from the commission before setting a salary above the base pay level for an agency head.

Had the commission not approved Boyd’s current salary, the panel could have limited Boyd’s pay as acting president to $156,504 annually – the base pay level for Winthrop’s agency head and a $6,000 pay cut from her provost salary.

At $162,537 annually, Boyd’s pay as acting president is $7,433 less than the state salary Williamson was paid before being fired on June 26. Williamson’s annual compensation was nearly $300,000 which included a salary supplement from the university’s foundation.

Winthrop University trustees board Chairwoman Kathy Bigham told to the Associated Press on Wednesday that trustees thought it appropriate to seek Boyd’s current salary, rather than a higher amount.

“We wanted to be fair and respectful,” she said. Trustees are not seeking additional money for Boyd from the school’s nonprofit fundraising foundation, she said.

Bigham said trustees don’t know how long Boyd’s interim position may last. A search for the next president will likely begin this fall, she said.

“We’re very fortunate to have her and for her to take this on without consideration for pay,” Bigham said.

Boyd started at Winthrop as an English professor and later became chair of the English department. She went on to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and dean of the faculty.

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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