COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A state panel decided Wednesday that Winthrop University’s interim president should continue to receive her current salary.
Provost Debra Boyd took over last month when Winthrop trustees suspended, then fired, Jamie Comstock Williamson, less than a year into her tenure.
Trustees said Williamson violated the university’s nepotism policy by hiring her husband for a part-time job, provided false information and was demeaning and rude. Williamson has denied all the complaints and threatened to sue.
The Agency Head Salary Commission unanimously agreed to maintain Boyd’s salary of $162,500, as trustees requested.
That’s how much Boyd has made since July 1, when all state employees received a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. The commission’s vote followed discussions behind closed doors.
Boyd’s approved pay is just $6,000 above the least amount Winthrop’s president can earn, as per the commission’s market-based salary range for the job, which ranges from $156,500 to $242,600. College trustees are supposed to seek advance permission from the commission if they want their president to receive more from state funds than the set minimum.
Williamson was making $300,000 a year - nearly $170,000 from the state and $130,000 from the Winthrop University Foundation.
Winthrop University board Chairwoman Kathy Bigham said trustees thought it appropriate to seek Boyd’s current salary, rather than a higher amount.
“We wanted to be fair and respectful,” she said. Trustees are not seeking additional money for Boyd from the school’s nonprofit fund-raising foundation, she said.
Bigham said trustees don’t know how long Boyd’s interim position may last. A search for the next president will likely begin this fall, she said.
“We’re very fortunate to have her and for her to take this on without consideration for pay,” Bigham said.
Boyd began her career at Winthrop 30 years ago, teaching courses in writing, literature and Renaissance drama. She became chairwoman of the English department in 1999, then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003. She’s been vice president for academic affairs since 2011. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University and a doctorate’s in English from the University of South Carolina.
Also on Wednesday, the Agency Head Salary Commission approved a $153,000 salary for the Revenue Department’s incoming director, as requested by Gov. Nikki Haley’s office.
The amount maintains what Rick Reames currently makes as chief of staff, following the July 1 pay raises.
Reames is set to become interim director July 18, when Bill Blume retires. Haley appointed Blume to take the Cabinet agency’s helm in January 2013 following a massive hacking of taxpayers’ personal data. Blume has said he worked to change the agency’s culture so that data security became a top priority.
“He’s done a fabulous job over there,” said Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, who is also chairman of the salary commission.
Reames came aboard after Blume told Haley in January of his retirement plans. Haley has said she will nominate Reames as director, but the Senate would have to confirm her choice.
The commission’s salary range for Revenue’s director is $139,170 to $215,700. Blume’s salary was $156,000 before the July 1 cost-of-living increases took effect.
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