Staff Report

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University President Dan Mahony will leave his position, effective March 1, to become president of the Southern Illinois University system, the school announced Dec. 3.

There had been speculation about Mahony’s future at Winthrop, after he told faculty during a meeting Nov. 22 that his contract expired in 2020, but he was unable to discuss his negotiations with the Board of Trustees.

Anna Sharpe, editor in chief of the Johnsonian student newspaper, was a guest on the Palmetto Report to discuss her reporting on the situation.

“Initially I was surprised, but I don’t want to say that I didn’t see this coming, because I’ve looked into (his contract status),” said Sharpe.

“This news is bittersweet for us but what a wonderful opportunity for Dan to advance his career by taking on this new challenge of leading more than 28,000 students and managing an $867 million budget,” said Glenn McCall, chair of the Board of Trustees, in an email to faculty and staff.

Sharp said many students and faculty have expressed their disappointment with the news.

“My university is losing the best president we’ve had in my tenure here,” tweeted Dr. Scott Huffmon, political science professor and director of the Winthrop Poll.

“I’m shocked that he’s leaving, because he’s been doing a really good job,” said Sharpe. “His track record shows that he is meeting all of his targets, every year after his evaluation he meets expectations. So it seems odd to me that he is leaving and I don’t know if it’s by his choice or the Board of Trustees choice, but I don’t think that they would have any reason to make him leave, because he is doing such a good job.”

Mahony told the Herald it was a difficult decision.

“By far the hardest part of leaving is the students. My relationship with them was incredibly enjoyable,” Mahony told the paper. “They are so hard working. They made every day (at Winthrop) enjoyable.”

Mahony said his new position at Southern Illinois would bring a new opportunity to have an impact on more students.

“I’m excited about working across the system to advance all of SIU,” said Mahony, in a Southern Illinois press release. “SIU has a powerful impact on students and the SIU region, and I look forward to building on its strong foundation.”

However, Sharp said the decision could simply be financially motivated.

“His salary will be over $400,000 at Southern Illinois and right now his official salary (at Winthrop) is about $180,000, but that is just the official salary, because there is more that goes into it.”

Regardless, Sharpe said Mahony will be missed by many at Winthrop.

“We love Dan Mahony, we love ‘Dan the Man’ and I am sad to see him go and I think it’s strange that he is leaving,” she said. “There will probably be a big celebration when he leaves, because everyone is going to miss him.”

Moving forward, McCall said the Board of Trustees will “look externally for an academic leader with previous experience as a university president to serve in an interim position,” in order to “allow us the time necessary to engage the campus in ascertaining the future needs of the university.”