Winthrop University President Dan Mahony said Thursday he remains focused on increasing student and staff diversity, strengthening the school’s finances and upgrading campus technology.
In his second State of the University address at Byrnes Auditorium, Mahony said Winthrop performed above the national average in the areas of diversity and student-faculty interaction on the 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement.
“Diversity is about creating that campus environment where everybody is welcome,” said Mahony, in his third year as school president. “Our students consistently say they have more exposure to diversity here than just about anywhere else.”
Diversity, which looks at how often students engage with peers of different race and ethnicities, economic backgrounds, religion or political perspectives than their own.
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“It impacts them. It better prepares them for life after college,” Mahony said. “We want to keep building on what really has been a strength for a while.”
The college also created an accounting mentoring and professional development program for underrepresented populations in the accounting field, Mahony said. The program will include mentors, internships and professional development opportunities. He said it aligns with Winthrop’s goal to develop programs that grab national attention.
“No one else has done that before,” he said.
In his inaugural address last year, Mahony detailed a 10-year plan to guide the college through 2025. The plan included initiatives to boost enrollment, satisfaction and fundraising. He said then the goals would be evaluated each year and would drive the school’s allocation of funds. So far, annual goals have been exceeding expectations.
▪ Last year, Mahony emphasized attracting and retaining a talented, diverse staff and student body, and he laid out concepts to increase minority faculty and managerial staff from 14.4 percent to 20 percent by 2025. On Thursday, he said the the school has increased faculty and staff diversity to 16.4 percent, exceeding this year’s goal.
▪ Mahone said last year he sought to nearly double the school’s endowment assets by 2025 from $43.1 million to $80 million. Mahony said Thursday the university’s total endowment assets of $50.3 million exceeded this year’s $47.5 million goal.
▪ Winthrop has also exceeded its 2017 target for student scholarships at $20 million and six-year graduation rate of first-time, full-time freshmen at 57 percent. Winthrop received its largest estate gift, $3 million, from Elizabeth Reed, Class of 1941 and 1951, to establish the Elizabeth Hope Reed Fellows Program. The program awards students with financial need who maintain good grades and who volunteer at least eight hours a week.
▪ Winthrop is also focused on employee salaries. The university saw an increase in the percentage of full-time employees with at or above the median salaries from 32 to 37 percent, exceeding the 2017 goal. Mahony said the 10-year goal is 50 percent and that increasing by 5 percent in one year is a step in the right direction.
“We’re not where we need to be yet,” he said.
▪ Last year, Mahony told students many of the school’s classrooms would receive upgraded technology, and he said by 2025, the school should aim to outfit 50 to 60 classrooms with new gear. The school plans to spend between $15 million to $22 million annually on facilities, according to the plan. That’s up from $11.1 million. Winthrop has exceeded its 2017 goal by upgrading technology in 28 classrooms.
Mahony said the goals are a “collaborative process” with community members, faculty and staff, alumni and students. He said he has formed five groups to lead the development of future initiatives outlined in the plan.
“The creation of these working groups will assist in continuing the good work that already has been accomplished in the last year, in addition to providing more transparency throughout this process,” he said. “We will continue to work hard, to improve and to keep our focus on the characteristics and advantages of the Winthrop experience that have brought us this far together.”
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082