Almost three months after the firing of Winthrop University’s 10th president, mediation and a possible lawsuit are still pending.
Some of the school’s trustees met behind closed doors Friday to hear legal advice about threatened or potential claims. Trustees said they also were discussing the possible settlement of legal claims and Winthrop’s position related to potential lawsuits.
School officials did not specify whether the trustees’ discussion related to legal action that could be brought by former President Jamie Comstock Williamson.
In June, Williamson threatened to sue Winthrop after its board of trustees fired her amid allegations that she had lied to trustees and violated state ethics laws by hiring her husband for a part-time position. Trustees listed their accusations against Williamson in a June 13 letter, which included a claim that she had acted in an “explosive” and “hostile” manner toward campus employees.
Through her attorney at the time, Williamson denied all of the trustees’ claims and said she might sue individual board members for slander and defamation. Her attorney claimed that Winthrop breached its employment contract with Williamson.
Williamson was terminated “with cause” on June 26, just five days shy of her one-year anniversary on the job.
Since then, she has requested mediation with Winthrop officials – a right granted in her employment contract. A date for mediation has not been set, board Vice Chairman Karl Folkens said Friday.
Winthrop trustees have said they intend to start a search for Williamson’s replacement soon, regardless of whether legal mediation with Williamson is finished. Board Chairwoman Kathy Bigham has said Winthrop’s 11th president could be chosen around April 2015.
Debra Boyd, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, is serving as acting president until trustees select a new president.