/‘Immeasurable harm to our institution and its reputation’ University of Mississippi faculty fume over chancellor hire

‘Immeasurable harm to our institution and its reputation’ University of Mississippi faculty fume over chancellor hire

Boyce, a former IHL commissioner, was the past president of Holmes Community College. He was paid to consult with the IHL board trustees during the chancellor search process. Boyce did not apply for the position and was not subjected to vetting by university stakeholders, such as the faculty. He was granted a “backdoor” interview by the IHL board just minutes before being offered the job. The IHL board used a broad policy provision to waive 12 of the 20 steps that would have allowed a “preferred applicant” to meet on-campus constituency group members. These groups could then provide feedback to IHL before the board made their final hiring decision. Richard Gershon (ex-dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law) said that Dr. Boyce was wrong in many ways. He also tweeted that Boyce should be fired. He was placed in a situation where, instead of celebrating his appointment there is a lot dissension. If the campus had been able to meet him according to the IHL procedures, there may have been disagreements but not this dissension. They have made matters worse by not listening to us. It’s unfortunate, because he could really be great for this university, however he’s still starting to behind the curve.” Mississippi Today reached out to more than 12 faculty members who have held leadership positions or tenured at the University of Mississippi to find out how they would work with their next leader. All of the faculty who were interviewed said that Boyce is their greatest frustration. However, others are questioning Boyce’s qualifications for the job. Chuck Ross, history professor and chairman of the African American Studies Program at the university, said that “the process is clearly flawed.” He has been teaching at the university since 1995. It’s problematic enough to select a consultant. Why didn’t the IHL board feel comfortable inviting this person to participate in the process? This raises questions about his credentials. This could suggest that they weren’t as confident about his credentials in comparison to other candidates.” Since its inception, the University of Mississippi faculty has played an integral role in social progress. The faculty has supported student-led efforts to condemn racism on campus, move the Confederate monument to the Confederate cemetery on campus, and to end flying the Confederate battle emblem-adorned state flag. Republican Governor Phil Bryant appointed the 12 members of the IHL board. Phil Bryant was the first governor to appoint all 12 members of the IHL board in Mississippi’s history. This was after Mississippi voters in 2004 changed the state Constitution to reduce the term length to nine years. In his 2008 book, “Making Haste Slowly”, historian David Sansing writes that the IHL board would not have existed if Jackson politicians had not tried to control the university’s administration in the 1930s. Theodore Bilbo fired The University of Mississippi’s president, 13 faculty members, and the presidents of Mississippi State College for Women (now Mississippi State University), while national accreditation bodies examined the state’s public universities as well as their governing bodies. The legislation’s author wrote that the IHL board was established in Bilbo’s footsteps to ensure the universities’ “beyond political influence” as university faculty sought to rebuild the school’s reputation. Many faculty members today told Mississippi Today that they believe Boyce’s hiring is driven by political influence. “I feel like we are just a political football. Laura Sheppardson is a university math professor. “We are here to disseminate and gather knowledge. I don’t believe the IHL level people are prioritizing this mission. The university’s national reputation is another concern. The university was awarded R1 status in 2016 and 2018, making it one of the most prestigious doctoral research universities in America. This ranking indicates that the university is among the top 2.7 per cent of research institutions of higher educational. Many faculty members were concerned about Boyce’s ability to compare with those of other R1 university leaders. Some faculty also expressed concerns about the possibility of Boyce being able to recruit qualified candidates to Oxford. Ted Ownby, a professor of history and southern studies who was also the former director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, said that there is a strong suspicion of Boyce being cronyist. This could have a negative impact on our national reputation. It’s all about the next job search for staff, faculty, or administrators. It will be asked: Who are your university leaders?” Someone who was found through an inadvertent search will answer the question. While we’ll have to tell them, “That’s the IHL Board, not us,” there will still be applicants who don’t want to apply for positions here. Many grad students will say that Boyce is not trustworthy. Ross stated that Dr. Boyce will have a difficult time gaining respect and being accepted. It will be difficult for him to make the transition. He’s not only being unfair to them in many ways, but also to himself. He should have told them no, especially after being hired to be a consultant.”