Winthrop trustees mull next president search; Boyd to remain in office during interim

08/19/2014 7:10 PM

08/20/2014 10:38 AM

As Winthrop University soon starts its search for a new president, Acting President Debra Boyd does not plan to put her name in the hat, school officials said on Tuesday.

Board of Trustees Chairwoman Kathy Bigham said Boyd has agreed to serve in the president’s office until a permanent president is chosen. Boyd was appointed acting president on June 26 after trustees fired Jamie Comstock Williamson.

Now, trustees say they’re discussing the initial stages of a presidential search. It will be the second presidential search for Winthrop in two years.

After longtime President Anthony DiGiorgio announced in 2012 his plan to retire, trustees embarked on a nearly year-long search with the help of the executive search consultant firm Greenwood/Asher and Associates. Williamson was chosen in February 2013 from a pool of four finalists.

Trustees have not said how long they expect the search will be for Williamson’s replacement. On Tuesday, Bigham emphasized that Winthrop employees will be consulted early on in the search.

The board plans to meet twice over the next week to discuss the search process.

Winthrop and Williamson are also expected to move to mediation soon –– a legal remedy afforded to the ex-president in her employment contract. There’s no set timeline yet for mediation to begin, Bigham said.

Williamson recently changed attorneys, according to information provided to the Winthrop board from the university’s attorney. Rock Hill attorney Bev Carroll was representing Williamson after trustees suspended the president in mid-June.

In June, Carroll wrote a letter to the Winthrop board addressing the allegations made against Williamson. In it, she denied all the trustees’ claims. Winthrop trustees have accused Williamson of lying to the board, violating South Carolina ethics law and mistreating some campus employees.

Williamson is now represented by attorney Malissa Burnette of Callison Tighe and Robinson in Columbia, Bigham said on Tuesday. The Herald could not reach Carroll or Burnette late afternoon Tuesday.

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