For the first time in more than two decades, Winthrop University will host presidential finalists hoping to hold its top leadership position.
The finalists, announced Friday morning, are “top flight” and it’s time to “sell Winthrop to them,” said Bob Thompson, a Winthrop Board of Trustees member.
Those in the running to succeed retiring President Anthony DiGiorgio were chosen from more than 100 applicants and passed through two in-person interviews and reference and background checks.
Next, finalists will each embark on three-day visits to meet with students, employees and community members.
The finalists are Jeff Braden of North Carolina State University; Jayne Marie Comstock of the American Council on Education and Butler University; Elizabeth Dale of Drexel University; and Ulysses Hammond of Connecticut College.
“The candidates are student-focused,” said Kambrell Garvin, Winthrop’s student representative on the presidential search committee.
“They go out on their campuses, and they really do attempt to engage students and that’s something that we found to be really, really exciting.”
Campus visibility is important to faculty and staff, said Cliff Calloway, the committee’s faculty representative.
“If you talk to the faculty, you’ll get a pretty wide range of opinions,” Calloway said. “A lot of the faculty – at least as far as a common theme – would like a new president that will be interactive with the faculty across campus.”
The university plans to use an online survey for students, faculty and staff to share opinions about the finalists after they’ve visited campus, said Kathy Bigham, trustees board vice chairwoman.
Visits start Sunday
A dean at N.C. State University in Raleigh, Braden will be the first finalist to make an official visit to Winthrop. He’s no stranger to the campus, Braden said Friday.
He has worked with Winthrop faculty in the past, helping support educational psychology development in Lancaster County schools. Winthrop, he said, is a “beautiful campus” that, unlike many places, actually “looks better in person than it does in pictures.”
Dale is the senior vice president for institutional advance at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her Winthrop visit starts Wednesday.
She said she is looking forward to seeing Winthrop “flourishing” next week with student activities and classes
She took a “self-guided” tour of the campus last month during a time students and faculty were on winter break.
“It is a beautiful and well-manicured campus, and I was impressed by how well the newer facilities were integrated into the Neo-Georgian architectural style of the historic buildings,” she said.
Winthrop will host Hammond and Comstock throughout the first full week of February.
Hammond is vice president for administration at Connecticut College in New London, Conn.
Next month’s trip will be Hammond’s third Winthrop visit.
“The stunning beauty of the campus,” he said, and friendliness of the people at Winthrop and in Rock Hill have impressed him.
He likes Winthrop’s size, Hammond said, which allows “the development of close relationships between faculty, students and staff.”
Comstock is the director of the executive leadership group at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.
She has visited Winthrop a few times in the past several years, she said – most recently dropping in last weekend with her husband.
“We tried to view the campus as prospective parents and determined that Winthrop would be a top choice,” Comstock said Friday.
Comstock was named as a finalist in October for a presidential post at Jacksonville University in Florida.
Winthrop’s final hiring decision is expected to be made by the end of February by Winthrop’s trustees board.
DiGiorgio is the longest-serving president of any public university in South Carolina. His successor will be Winthrop’s 10th president, transitioning into the role after June.
Meet the finalists
Braden will be at Winthrop Sunday through Tuesday, Dale Wednesday through Friday, Hammond Feb. 3-5 and Comstock Feb. 6-8. The Herald will list times and locations of meet-and-greet sessions as that information becomes available.
Current position: North Carolina State’s dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in Raleigh.
Before arriving at N.C. State, Braden taught and directed school psychology programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, San Jose State University and the University of Florida.
Education: Graduate degrees from the University of California-Berkeley, Gallaudet University and Beloit College.
Family: Married to wife Jill for more than 35 years; has one daughter in law school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and one son who is a junior at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
JAYNE MARIE COMSTOK
Current position: Director of the Executive Leadership Group, American Council on Education, Washington, D.C.; on sabbatical from her role as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Butler University in Indianapolis.
Before arriving at Butler, Comstock served as vice president for academic affairs at Millikin University and as vice president and dean of the college at Baker University.
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from Illinois State University and a doctorate in communication from the University of Arizona.
Family: Married to husband Larry A. Williamson, a retired Navy captain with experience in university administration and faculty positions. They have a 9-year-old Chesapeake retriever named Cocoa.
Current position: Senior vice president for institutional advance at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Before arriving at Drexel, Dale served as vice chancellor for University Advancement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was the founding executive director of the UMass Amherst Foundation.
Education: Master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in educational policy, research and administration from UMass Amherst.
Family: Significant other is David Wright, who also lives in Philadelphia. Dale has one daughter who attended Harvard University and graduated from Smith College with a degree in Studio Art. Her daughter has started her own business and lives in Boston.
Current position: Vice president for administration at Connecticut College, New London, Conn.
Before arriving at Connecticut College, Hammond served as the executive officer of the Courts of the District of Columbia.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science at Kenyon College in Ohio and both a master’s degree in public administration and a juris doctorate degree from Wayne State University Law School in Michigan.
Family: Married to wife Chris for 33 years; they have two children and six grandchildren.