Winthrop University president resigns. Rock Hill college to look for interim leader

Winthrop University president resigns. Rock Hill college to look for interim leader

ROCK HILL, S.C. (Amanda Harris/Rock Hill Herald) - Winthrop University President Dan Mahony is resigning.

Mahony has been chosen for the presidential role at the Southern Illinois University System, according to a release from Winthrop. The Southern Illinois University System serves more than 28,000 students on multiple campuses throughout the state, employs more than 7,000 faculty and staff and has a budget of about $867 million, according to the system’s website.

The Southern Illinois board of trustees will vote on Mahony’s appointment Thursday, according to the system’s website. If approved, Mahony will lead the system starting in March 2020.

Mahony will continue to lead Winthrop until March 1, 2020, the release states. The Winthrop board of trustees will be looking for an interim president before beginning a search for the university’s 12th president.

“While a change in leadership can be unsettling, the Board will not yet begin a search process for the next president. Instead, we plan to look externally for an academic leader with previous experience as a university president to serve in an interim position,” reads a statement from the Winthrop University Board of Trustees. “This will allow us the time necessary to engage the campus in ascertaining the future needs of the university.”

Mahony joined Winthrop in July 2015.

“Dan has been the leader Winthrop needed at a pivotal time in the university’s history. Since he was named 11th president, he has worked to build on Winthrop’s strengths, put students at the forefront of our mission, make the Winthrop experience accessible and affordable, all while helping the university community adapt to the changing realities of public higher education,” said Glenn McCall, Winthrop trustee board chair, in a prepared statement. “We are grateful to him for his work at Winthrop over nearly five years.”

During Mahony’s tenure, Winthrop has received a record number of freshman applications, The Herald previously reported. Increasing enrollment is one area Mahony outlined in his strategic plan, launched in 2016. He also set his sights on increasing retention, student success, diversity and fundraising.

“Many of the goals of the Winthrop Plan were achieved early under Mahony’s direction, moving the university forward in such areas as six-year graduation rate, diversity among faculty/managerial staff, and unrestricted annual giving,” McCall said in the statement.

Mahony also oversaw Winthrop’s re-branding initiative. The university launched a new logo in 2018. Mahony said then that the new logo brought a more cohesive look to campus and sent a clearer message to prospective students.

“Our new symbol is uniquely Winthrop’s,” he said in 2018.

Winthrop racked up a number of accolades during Mahony’s tenure. For the second time, Money Magazine named Winthrop in its 2019 list of Best Colleges for Your Money.

Winthrop also was named to U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 edition of “Best Colleges.” The school ranked 17th among colleges in the South, The Herald previously reported.

Washington Monthly earlier this year honored Winthrop’s ability to encourage students to vote, The Herald previously reported. For the second year in a row, Winthrop was among the top 80 schools for student voting in the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings.

The Princeton Review named Winthrop among the “Best in the Southeast” in the “2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” The Herald previously reported.

While president, Mahony received the McInnis/Ryan Award from the American Association of University Administrators (AAUA), which honors ethical leadership practices, the release states.

Winthrop University professor Scott Huffmon referred to Mahony as “the best president we’ve had in my tenure here” in a tweet posted to his Twitter account Tuesday.

Mahony is not planning to make a public comment until at least after the Southern Illinois vote Thursday, said Judy Longshaw, Winthrop spokesperson. Longshaw said Mahony is out of town through next week.