Dr. Jayne Marie Comstock has completed her first 100 days in office, living the dream. She said she has heard positive feedback from faculty and students.
“This is a dream job for me, and when your dreams come true, sometimes people are afraid to have their dreams come true, because they are afraid it won’t be as good as they dreamed it to be, but for me its better than I could have dreamed,” Comstock said.
She explained that she came in with a steep learning curve with having to learn everything about Winthrop and learning all about the people.
“All of those people really help me get acquainted with the heart of the university. And once I understand the heart of the institution, it will be easier to lead the institution,” Comstock said.
“The proudest professional moment of my life was to walk down scholars leading the Blue line for the first time to understand now that I am part of this 128 year tradition… It’s just an overwhelming feeling,” Comstock said.
Comstock explained that she does not have stress with anything negative about her job.
“The only stress I’ve been experiencing has to do with the calendar; it’s too full. I just don’t have time to sit and answer my email or do laundry,” Comstock said.
Comstock explained that it is great to have her husband Larry Williamson involved with the university and the Knowledge Park initiative.
“We get up, we walk the dog and then we start working on issues. From the whole time I’m getting ready, he is talking to me and I’m talking to him about campus issues,” Comstock said.
She explained that it’s an exciting life; though she is unsure she can keep going at this pace for five years, but she is sure she can keep it up for at least five months more.
While Williamson and Comstock settled easily into life at Winthrop, but Cocoa had more trouble.
“At home, she knew which door to go to if she needed to go out. But there are so many doors in the president’s house and the house is so much bigger. It took her a while to figure out which door she needed to go to let us know she needed to go out,” Comstock said.
It is different for Comstock coming from a private institution to a public institution. But Comstock is no stranger to public institutions. Her first jobs were in public schools and she received all of her education in a public institution.
“My heart’s there. But there are certain things that happen a lot quicker in a private institution than in a public institution. For example, if I wanted to start a new academic program, I could,” Comstock said.
She explained that public meetings are different and she is working on getting used to that.
“A board meeting at a private institution is not public,” Comstock said.
The most different thing is that because Winthrop is publicly funded, there is more public interest and news coverage.
“The biggest surprise to me was that I’m a public figure. Wherever I go, I’m apt to have my picture taken or someone might ask me something about the institution,” Comstock said.
However, she does not always feels like she has to be on guard now that she is in the spotlight.
One way Comstock has been able to connect with the students has been through “Face Time with Comstock.” She has done two sessions and both sessions have been full.
“I enjoy them and listening to the students,” Comstock said.
She hasn’t heard any complaints, but she has had questions about whether Winthrop could do something. A popular concern has been tailoring education for adult students, which is one of her objectives agreed upon by the Board of Trustees.
She has been visiting colleges within the university and is visiting her last college, Visual and Performing Arts, this week.
“I’m trying to get a better understanding of the colleges,” Comstock said.
Comstock has been holding Town Hall meetings open to the faculty and staff for them to brainstorm and give their opinions on decisions about Winthrop’s future.
“It’s a 24/7, 365 days a week job. You do it because you love the students,” Comstock said.
By meeting with the student leaders and by doing Face Time, Comstock is able to speak with many students on campus.
Currently, Comstock is moving forward with her alumni tours.
In her first 100 days, Comstock has accomplished many things:
• Appealed to the South Carolina Legislature to increase Winthrop’s funding.
• Added the position of provost
• Added the position of Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management
• Involved Winthrop in the Knowledge Park Memorandum
• Oversaw completion of the York Tech Bridge Program
• Started the Town Hall meetings for faculty and staff to ask for their advice and input