Matthew Shealy & Christian Smith

(Rock Hill, S.C.) – Changes to the Winthrop University board of trustees’ bylaws last summer, which removed the student and faculty representatives from the board, have drawn criticism, including from some who have seen the changes firsthand.

The changes, which were unanimously approved in June 2021, called for the creation of student, faculty and staff “liaisons” to the board.

“Previous to this, there were two positions that represented the students and faculty respectively; a student representative and a faculty representative,” said Chase Duncan, managing editor of The Johnsonian, who was a guest on the Palmetto Report podcast.

Duncan has been following the story for the student newspaper.

“These two positions would sit at the board of trustees at the table. They wouldn’t vote on stuff, but they were sitting at the table. They could advocate for their ideas whenever…they had their own nametags and everything,” he said

The three current liaisons do not have the opportunity to sit with the board of trustees and they must be called upon and invited to speak.

Duncan said one board member, Jane LaRoche, expressed her displeasure with the changes during the closing moments of a recent board of trustees meeting.

“She kind of called out the board and said that we need to have the student and faculty representatives at the table,” Duncan said.

“I think that kind of opens up a conversation, when there’s board members who aren’t fully okay with this…decision, to kind of look at what’s going on behind the scenes.”

This isn’t the first time that LaRoche has disagreed with the board publicly, as she was critical of the decision to remove Dan Mahony as president of the university in 2020.