ROCK HILL, S.C. - The Winthrop University Board of Trustees voted overwhelmingly Friday to give the school's president a notice of termination, one day after she and her husband returned the $27,000 he earned last year while working for the school.

The board also voted to suspend the duties of President Jamie Comstock Williamson, said school spokeswoman Julia Longshaw. In a news release, school officials said Provost Debra Boyd will assume the duties of the president.

The board met for seven hours Friday in a special session called earlier this week, voting 12-1 to take action. Williamson met with the board for about an hour toward the end of the meeting before being taken to an office downstairs, The Herald of Rock Hill reported.

Under the terms of her contract, Williamson is entitled to a "reasonable opportunity to be heard" before the board takes further action, the school said in its news release. Board chairwoman Kathy Bigham said such a hearing would be held June 26 if Williamson exercises that right. The board would then determine if cause exists to continue with the termination, the school said.

School officials didn't say in the news release why the board gave Williamson the notice of termination. Bigham would only say that "trustees are aware of public concerns and questions about certain matters at Winthrop, and we want to be sure that President Williamson has every opportunity to respond to those concerns in a comprehensive manner before we consider what, if any, next steps should be taken."

On Wednesday, The Herald reported that Williamson's husband, Larry Williamson, had been working in her office part time. A day later, the couple returned the money he had earned.

Williamson said Thursday that the couple hadn't violated South Carolina's Ethics Act, which prohibits public employees from hiring their family members for positions that they manage or supervise.

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Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com