Trustees meet to discuss profits and funding

Funding, audits, and goals were discussed at the meeting on Nov. 10

The board of trustees met on Thursday, Nov 9 to review each department’s new ideas and projects to bring to the table. The meeting continued on Friday Nov 10 where members briefly went over all of the information discussed the previous day.

One point of discussion among board members was the financial status of Winthrop for the 2017-2018 academic year as compared to previous ones. The university has seen an 80% rise in profit in 2017 under Daniel Mahony’s presidency.

The rise in profit has been, in part, due to the capital projects proposed and initiated by Winthrop, as well as, a 10% cut across the board.

The chair of the board of trustees, Karl Folkens, addressed the timeline of profit for Winthrop over the last thirty years.

“We see it peaking [the university’s profit] at $20 million and we went from that to below $10 million in just a matter of years. There are many reasons for this drop.” Folkens said.

The reasons for the decrease in Winthrop’s profit margin is due to many factors and projects occurring at the time, such as new equipment funds, and projects that had to be made up within the next few years, according to Folkens.

One area of concern for members was tuition increases, which Folkens said was impossible to avoid when looking for financial stability.

The goals and targets that were set in place for Winthrop over the next few years have already been achieved and even succeeded in certain areas, according to Mahony.

Winthrop has exceeded their 2018 goals and even reached many that were not set until 2025. The student/faculty engagement was one of those goals that hit 2025, causing the 2025 goals to be raised.

Mahony mentioned the scholarship goals, set for 2025, were hit this year and to expect more scholarship funding coming from foundation money.

The board of trustees initiated five new Winthrop Plan Action Groups to monitor Winthrop’s goals and increase communication and transparency across the board.

The first year experience, which was set in place to introduce freshmen to the Winthrop community and provide assistance with their transition, was a highlight of the member’s discussions on Thursday. They acknowledged the FYE faculty, staff, and ACAD peer mentors for their excellent work and many members said they were proud of the outstanding work done to enhance the freshman experience.

The board thanked the first year experience department for the support systems put in place to create a safer, happier campus for its students. They also acknowledged the two undergraduate students who were able to create the You Belong video showcasing Winthrop’s school spirit.

A new proposal came to the board a few months ago to create a research based grant for non-traditional students to earn a degree at Winthrop. The new professional studies program will allow any person with learning or working experience in a field to use their experience towards gaining their degree, the program will begin in the Fall of 2019.

The university was contacted by state representatives about the diversity of professional positions on campus and

Mahony discussed the university’s enrollment projections for the next 5 years, where they plan to increase 5% annually. He also mentioned the introduction of online program and timeline initiatives as well as an increase in the amount of merit and need based financial aid received on campus.

One key discussion held throughout the meeting was regarding recruitment and the freshman experience.

The first year experience has already impacted enrollment and retention but the board plans to take new initiatives for recruitment including giving a yard flag to all students joining the university. This comes from the Clemson campus where they give all new students a flag to increase school spirit and excitement about joining the university.

The board wishes to establish a clear identity for Winthrop and impact all departments from the marketing approach to university events and the school’s web presence. Creating a philanthropy and engaging more in university events were also on the board’s plans for the future.

This year six faculty members received tenure while four received associate director status and 40 new members were hired. The university is still in search of a new Dean for the college of Arts and Sciences while they focus their efforts on faculty burnout and the financial realities of the school.

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