Winthrop trustees vote unanimously to fire president

Winthrop trustees vote unanimously to fire president


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 26 at 5:22 PM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Winthrop University fired embattled president Jamie Comstock Williamson Thursday amid allegations of providing false information, nepotism and flat out rude behavior toward co-workers.

The vote by university trustees was unanimous.  

Comstock Williamson only lasted a year at the helm as she was suspended prior to the firing.

Trustees say Comstock Williamson broke their trust and it is beyond repair, so Comstock Williamson and her $170,000 dollar a year salary are gone, citing a termination for cause clause in her contract.

"The president's employment is terminated effective immediately," said Trustee Kathy Bigham after the vote.

Board members allege Comstock Williamson violated the university's nepotism policy by directing an employee to hire her husband to a part-time, $27,000 a year job.

They also claim she gave false and misleading information to trustees about her husband's job as well as to students and staff about ongoing university dealings like fees and salary reviews.

A third allegation includes hostile, rude and condescending behavior to co-workers, which prompted them to avoid her.

Trustees said they have clear and convincing evidence, but didn't show it after coming out of a two-hour closed door meeting.

"Once candor and trust are irretrievably broken, decision must be made to chart a different course," Bigham said.

"I just think it's a damn shame," said Winthrop alum Mary Beth Hughes.

She cried at the idea of the firing and says Comstock Williamson deserves a second chance.

"I think they're making Winthrop look bad and they should be ashamed of themselves."

"I don't think it was the right move," said recent Winthrop graduate Alex Salemme, “She brought a lot of passion and energy, something we haven't seen in a while and she was making great strides."

Debra Boyd is now the acting Winthrop president. She was named to the position seconds after Comstock Williamson was fired.

"It's a daunting task, but I have a lot of good people to work with me," Boyd said.

Comstock Williamson did not attend Thursday's meeting.

She already has an attorney and a letter to trustees denying any false information or wrongdoing. It's expected to end up in a lawsuit.