Winthrop

Former Winthrop University president Jamie Williamson drops suit against the college

Winthrop President Jamie Comstock Williamson listens as the Board of Trustees votes to fire her in 2015.
Winthrop President Jamie Comstock Williamson listens as the Board of Trustees votes to fire her in 2015. Herald file photo

Former Winthrop University President Jamie Comstock Williamson has dropped a suit she filed against the university, according to a statement sent Monday to the Winthrop Board of Trustees and provided to The Herald.

Williamson filed the suit after her June 26, 2014, termination. She was let go after just 11 months as president of Winthrop University.

Winthrop’s Board of Trustees said then the board took action, in part, because Williamson misled trustees three areas, according to a letter from then board chairwoman Kathy Bigham:

▪ The hiring of Williamson’s husband, Larry, by the president’s office: Williamson admitted in November 2013 that she violated the state nepotism law in the hiring of her husband to a part-time job at the public college. The couple later returned his $27,000 salary to Winthrop.

▪ Communication with students about fee increases: Some faculty members and students at Winthrop University were surprised by a 40 percent increase in summer tuition in 2014 while Williamson was president.

▪ A salary review process: During her presidency, Williamson approved pay raises of 10 percent or more for several top-level staff members. Trustees said then that they were unaware of the raises and would look to set new policies to give the board more oversight over compensation for Winthrop employees.

Williamson said she was terminated “without cause” and sought damages for alleged breach of contract.

The university and Williamson entered into mediation in fall 2014, which did not produce a settlement, according to the statement.

“In February 2015, the S.C. Ethics Commission determined probable cause existed that Dr. Williamson had violated three sections of the S.C. State Ethics Act, which Dr. Williamson acknowledged in a November 9, 2015, Consent Order,” the statement reads.

A four-day arbitration hearing was scheduled to start Tuesday in Spartanburg. Williamson’s attorney notified the university Monday that she was dismissing her claim and releasing Winthrop University, former and current employees, trustees and others with prejudice, according to the statement.

That means Williamson will not be able to bring that claim or any other she may have had against Winthrop University in the future.

“We close this chapter in Winthrop's life, as the trustees continue to work closely with President Dan Mahony in implementing the Winthrop Plan as our strategy to become a national model for a student-centered university experience,” the statement reads.

Amanda Harris: 803-280-7282

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