Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education is traveling to campuses around the state. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports on his stop at a Delta university.
On a late Friday morning at Mississippi Valley State University, audience members are speaking to Al Rankins, the commissioner of higher education for The Institutions of Higher Learning.
This Delta conversation is just one stop on his tour of all Mississippi’s public universities.
Rankins said listening allows him to lead.
“I believe in meeting people where they are, and in order for me to be an effective leader of our system, I need to hear from and meet with the individuals who serve every day within our system," he said.
Concerns range from funding to quality of education.
The room is full of students and staff as well as community members like Lula Moore, a former Valley student and educator from Greenwood.
“I pray that we can save our programs in teacher education and expand program offerings," she said. "MVSU graduates are very concerned about the state and status of this university. This is where we started from. it provided us with the foundation that we have -- our first degree.”
Moore is currently her chapter’s president of her local Parents for Public Schools.
Rankins was named commissioner in March. He was previously president of Alcorn State University.