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Organizations Say Governor's College Board Appointees Lack Diversity
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Senator Kenny Wayne Jones (center) with coalition and caucus members
Desare Frazier


The Mississippi Coalition on Black Higher Education, is upset that Governor Phil Bryant did not appoint any graduates from historically black universities to the College Board. Bob Owens, a Jackson State University grad ends his term on the College Board in May. The state's Legislative Black Caucus and the coalition voiced their displeasure at the capital. Senator David Jordan of Greenwood, is a graduate of Mississippi Valley State.

"To not include us in appointments of the eight universities and leave out members from the HBCUs is disgraceful and shameful. We are not happy and we want the governor to know this." said Jordan.

The organizations are sending a letter to the governor to requesting some of the appointees be replaced with graduates from historically black universities and they are circulating a petition statewide. According to Governor Phil Bryant's office, with the four new appointments, he's selected a total of eight College Board members, that includes one white women and two black men. However, none of them graduated from the state's historically black universities. Preston Lee is Vice President of the Mississippi Coalition on Black Higher Education.

"We know that just like all graduates from any university has a passion for their university and if you have no one representing you in those closed meetings you are going to get left out and we just know that's going to happen." said Lee.

College Board members serve staggered nine year terms. If the Senate confirms the appointments, the College Board makeup will include three graduates each from the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State, and two from the University of Mississippi.

Governor Bryant's Communications Director, Nicole Webb released the following statement:

"For his first appointment as governor, Gov. Bryant appointed Maj. Gen. Leon Collins as adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard. It was the first time in the state’s history an African American had been appointed to the position. In 2012, Gov. Bryant also appointed a woman and an African American man to the IHL Board of Trustees. This year, he appointed an African American graduate of Tougaloo College to the Board of Trustees. He has appointed a woman to the Board of Education and a woman to the Worker's Compensation Commission. He also recently appointed an African American, Jerry Griffith Sr., to the Mississippi Gaming Commission. This is the first time in the history of the Gaming Commission an African American has been appointed.

Also, I don’t have the numbers, but I am fairly certain that Gov. Bryant is among only a small percentage of governors who have female communications directors."