With just under a year of service under her belt, Winthrop University President Jamie Comstock Williamson has one foot unwillingly out the door.
Winthrop’s trustees on Friday voted 12-1 to give Williamson a 13-day notice of termination, one day after the Rock Hill Herald newspaper reported her husband was paid $27,000 for government relations work at the school, apparently without the board’s knowledge.
The termination notice came after after a seven-hour trustees’ meeting behind closed doors. The notice means Williamson has an opportunity to address the board next week, when the board will then decide if she is fired for cause. Provost and second-in-command Debra Boyd has been tapped as the university’s chief executive officer until the board either reinstates Williamson or finds a new candidate to replace her. Williamson did not talk to reporters after the meeting.
“Trustees are aware of public concerns and questions about certain matters at Winthrop,” board chairwoman Kathy Bigham said after the meeting. “We want to be sure that President Williamson has every opportunity to respond to those concerns.”
Rock Hill radio station WRHI reached out to former Winthrop president Anthony DiGiorgio this weekend to ask if he would be involved in the transition process should Williamson’s termination become final. In a written statement, DiGiorgio said that “if the trustees feel I could be helpful to Winthrop in some way … I would be amenable to having that discussion.”
Williamson has held the job for less than one year, having become the school’s president on June 30, 2013. However, the last months of her tenure have been on the defensive, as top administrators received raises up to 33 percent without the board’s knowledge and summer students saw a 40 percent increase in tuition.