Stakeholders at the University of Mississippi are reacting with shock that no good compromise could be reached to keep Chancellor Dan Jones in office. The state College Board had offered Jones a 2-year contract extension with an automatic retirement at the end of it.
Chancellor Jones, greeted by a standing ovation from staff, students, faculty, and reporters at yesterday’s news conference, said that he had made the decision not to accept the offer out of deep love and respect for Ole Miss.
“I feel strongly, as do most of my advisors, that serving two years as a lame duck would make it difficult to recruit and retain key leaders and continue our momentum in private giving," Jones said.
Jones said the university could not thrive with a governing board that did not support and trust him. After nearly two weeks of negotiations, the new IHL Commissioner Jim Borsig defended the Board’s initial decision to fire Jones.
"The Board has identified issues over time involving the University of Mississippi Medical Center that were not addressed as the Board expected them to be. The Board takes those legal responsibilities seriously and sometimes tough calls have to be made," Borsig said.
On campus, students, faculty, staff and alumni reacted with disbelief and shock. Many had hoped that the flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations would lead to a fair compromise.
“I’m disappointed. I grew up around this campus.”
That’s State Representative Brad Mayo, a 4th generation Ole Miss alumnus. He says he’ll push for changes to the IHL Board’s structure and powers.
“It’s an issue that’s been on the forefront of my mind. Frankly, since it requires a constitutional change it’s an issue that you need public buy-in," Mayo explained. "And I think this might be the impetus for that and it’s something that we’ll continue to push and examine, and that I expect to take up next session.”
Now the IHL is forging ahead with its search for a new chancellor.